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Helpful and Healthful Tips

On the day of your donation —

• For blood donations, drink extra water before and
after your donation to replace the volume of blood
you will donate.

• For platelet donations, drink a normal amount of water, but not extra.
• Avoid caffeinated drinks.

Between donations — Give your body plenty
of iron.

Iron comes from the food in your diet. Foods rich in iron include red meat, fish, poultry, broccoli, beans, raisins and prunes.

Eating foods rich in vitamin C (citrus fruit) helps your body absorb the iron you eat.


Eligibility Guidelines (see *note)

General Guidelines:

  • To give blood or platelets, you must be healthy, be at least 17 years old and weigh at least 110 pounds. "Healthy" means you feel well and can perform normal activities. If you have a chronic condition such as diabetes or high blood pressure, "healthy" also means you are being treated and the condition is under control.
  • Blood can be donated every 56 days.
  • Platelets can be donated every two weeks up to 24 times per year.
  • Each potential donor receives a mini-health check during which temperature, pulse, blood pressure and blood count (hemoglobin or hematocrit) are determined.
  • Donating platelets takes about two hours. Our centers are open a variety of hours for your convenience. To learn more about platelet donation, click here.

Allergy, Stuffy Nose, Itchy Eyes, Dry Cough: Acceptable as long as you feel well, have no fever, and have no problems breathing through your mouth.
Antibiotics: Must have finished antibiotics for an infection (bacterial or viral). Acceptable if you are taking antibiotics to prevent an infection, for example, following dental procedures or for acne. If you have a temperature above 99.5 degrees Fahrenheit, you may not donate until the fever is passed.

ASPIRIN — SPECIAL NOTE: If you take aspirin or other medication containing aspirin, you can donate blood, but must wait 36 hours to donate platelets.
Asthma: Acceptable as long as you are not having difficulty breathing at the time of donation and you otherwise feel well. Medications for asthma do not disqualify you from donating.

Blood Pressure Medications: Donors who are taking blood pressure medication are evaluated for acceptability by their blood pressure reading on the day of donation.

Botox injections: Acceptable.

Cancer: Acceptable if the cancer was treated with surgery, radiation or chemotherapy, and it has been at least five years since treatment was completed with no cancer recurrence. If you had leukemia or lymphoma, including Hodgkin's Disease and mycosis fungoids, you are not eligible to donate. Some low-risk cancers, including squamous or basal cell cancers of the skin, do not require a five-year waiting period.
Certain precancerous conditions, such as those of the uterine cervix or the colon, do not disqualify you from donation if the abnormality has been treated successfully.
You should discuss your particular situation with the health historian at the time of donation.

Cholesterol, high: Acceptable. Medications to lower the cholesterol level do not disqualify you from donating.

Cold, Flu, Sore Throat: Wait if you have a fever or a productive cough (bringing up phlegm). Wait if you don’t feel well on the day of donation. Wait until you have completed antibiotic treatment for and are recovered from sinus, throat or lung infection.

Dental Procedures: Acceptable after teeth cleaning, scaling, root canal, fillings and tooth extractions as long as there is no infection present. Wait for three days after having other types of oral surgery, or after treatment for an abscess or infection.

Depression, Anxiety: Acceptable as long as you feel well and are comfortable with the blood donation process. Medications for depression or anxiety do not disqualify you from donating.

Diabetes: Acceptable if disease is well controlled.

Epilepsy, Seizures: Acceptable as long as you have been seizure-free for the last three months. Medications for seizures do not disqualify you from donating.

Heart Disease: Depends on individual evaluation of type of disease, symptoms and medication being taken.

Hepatitis, Jaundice: Since age 11, if you had hepatitis (inflammation of the liver) caused by a virus, or unexplained jaundice (yellow discoloration of the skin), you are not eligible to donate blood. This includes those who had hepatitis or jaundice with infectious mononucleosis at any age.
Acceptable if you had jaundice or hepatitis caused by something other than a viral infection, such as medications, Gilbert’s disease, bile duct obstruction, alcohol, gallstones or trauma to the liver.
Herpes: Acceptable as long as you are feeling well.

HIV, AIDS: Mandatory deferral for persons with AIDS or AIDS-like symptoms. Not acceptable if individual has engaged in any AIDS at-risk behavior or activity per the guidelines determined by the Food and Drug Administration.

Immunosuppresives: Use of these types of medications will be cause for deferral. (Prednisone is acceptable in some cases.)

Immunization, Vaccination: Some vaccines are acceptable; otherwise, duration of deferral depends on specific vaccine(s) administered.

Medications: In almost all cases, medications will not disqualify you as a blood donor. Your eligibility will be based on the reason the medication was prescribed. As long as the condition is under control and you are healthy, blood donation is usually permitted. There are a handful of drugs that are of special significance in blood donation. Persons on these drugs have waiting periods following their last dose before they can donate blood:   Accutane; Proscar; Propecia; Avodart; Coumadin, heparin or other prescription blood thinners; and Soriatane.  If you ever took Tegison (etretinate), you are not eligible to donate blood. If you ever took human pituitary-derived growth hormone, you are not eligible to donate blood.
If you are taking prescription blood thinners such as Coumadin, Plavix or heparin, you should not donate since your blood will not clot normally. If your doctor discontinues your treatment with blood thinners, wait five days before donating.

Piercing (ears, body), Electrolysis: You are eligible to donate if the instruments used were sterile. Wait 12 months if there is any question whether or not the instruments used were sterile and free of blood contamination. This requirement is related to concerns about hepatitis.

Pregnancy, Nursing: Persons who are pregnant are not eligible to donate. Wait six weeks after giving birth. Nursing does not disqualify you from donating.

Skin Disease, Rash, Acne: Acceptable as long as the skin over the vein to be used to collect blood is not affected. If the skin disease has become infected, wait until the infection has cleared before donating. Taking antibiotics to control acne does not disqualify you from donating.

Surgery: Acceptable once the wound is healed and stitches are dissolved or removed, as long as the underlying condition is also acceptable in a blood donor. Wait two days after receiving stitches or staples for lacerations. If a laceration has become infected, wait until the infection has cleared before donating. Wait 12 months if you had a blood transfusion using blood from another person during surgery.

Tattoo: Wait 12 months after a tattoo. This requirement is related to concerns about hepatitis.

Travel Outside of U.S., Immigration: Wait 12 months after travel in an area where malaria is found. Wait three years after moving to the United States after living in a country where malaria is found. Persons who have spent long periods of time in countries where “mad cow disease” is found are not eligible to donate. This requirement is related to concerns about variant Creutzfeld Jakob Disease (vCJD). Persons who were born in or who lived in certain countries in Western Africa, or who have had close contact with persons who were born in or who lived in certain West African countries are not eligible to donate. This requirement is related to concerns about HIV Group O.

*Note: This list is not complete. Details of each donor's health and activities are discuss prior to blood donation in a confidential setting, and the final determination of eligibility is made at that time. Some donor eligibility rules are specified by the Food and Drug Administration for every blood bank in the country. Other rules are determined by the particular blood bank and may differ between programs. Donor eligibly rules are intended to protect the health and safety of the donor as well as the patient who will receive the transfusion. Eligibility rules may have changed since this information was last updated.


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