The U.S. health system depends on donations of blood--without those donations our health care system would come to a screeching halt! However, blood donations largely rely on the honor system of reporting and adhering to the rules, which are in place to keep the blood supply safe. It's in our best interests to make sure that everyone complies with the standards, to avoid communicable diseases and to prevent severe medical conditions in those patients who receive blood. As U.S. Customs and Immigration would say: "Know before you go!"

Do everyone a service, and stay informed of who can and cannot donate, and obey the rules. Our troops use this blood too-- so someone's life and our national security may depend on it. For the most up-to-date information on whether you can donate, call 1-800-448-3543.

Give the Gift of Life!


  • In general good health and feel well.
  • Between at least 17 and 60 years of age.
  • Weigh at least 110 pounds (45 kg)
  • Have a pulse rate of 80 to 100 beats/min and regular
  • Have a temperature at or below 99.5f (37.5c)
  • Have blood pressure in the range of 160/90 to 110/60
  • Be free of any lesion or scar of needle pricks indicative of addiction to narcotics or frequent blood donation (as in the case of professional blood donors).


  • Whole Blood donors may donate every 56 days.
  • Plasma donors may donate twice a week (max. every 48 hours.)
  • Platelet donors may donate a maximum of 24 times per year.
  • Other specialized donations are subject to other rules.


  • You have ever injected yourself with drugs or other substances not prescribed by a physician
  • You have ever tested positive for HIV
  • You are a man and have had sex with another man, even once
  • You have hemophilia or another blood clotting disorder and received clotting factor concentrate
  • You have engaged in sex for drugs or money since 1977
  • You have lived in western Europe since 1980
  • You have been held in a correctional facility (including jails, prisons and/or detention centers) for more than 72 hours in the last 12 months
  • You were born in, lived in or had sex with anyone who lived in, or received blood products in Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Niger or Nigeria since 1977 (this list changes frequently; updates are very important) or,
  • You are, or have been a sexual contact of someone in the above list.
  • You have any of the following medical conditions:
    • allergies treated with injections
    • asthma and receive regular treatment
    • babesiosis
    • blood disorder or bleeding tendencies
    • brain or spinal surgery that required a transplant of the dura mater
    • you or a family member have Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD)
    • melanoma
    • colitis
    • colostomy
    • dementia
    • diabetes and you have taken injected bovine (beef) insulin since 1980
    • emphysema
    • filariasis
    • taking medication for gallstones
    • gout
    • hemochromatosis
    • hepatitis, or undiagnosed jaundice after age ten, unless pertaining to mononucleosis or CMV infection.
    • leprosy
    • sickle cell trait
    • a seizure in the last five years
    • stroke
    • You have ever taken a human pituitary derived hormone (e.g. HGH)
    • You have ever taken Tegison (used to treat a severe skin disorder)

NOTE: There is a special watch for potential donors who have visited or lived in England/United Kingdom from 1980 to 1999, and those who have lived and/or worked in Western Europe since 1980.


  • Accident & Injury: can donate if otherwise healthy
  • Anemia: defer donation until no symptoms exist
  • Arthritis: can donate if mild and not on medication
  • Bronchitis: defer donation until four weeks or after recovery
  • Cancer: Basal cell, squamous cell skin cancers and keratosis; can not donate until removed and healed.
  • Malignant tumors; can donate five years after removal of early stage contained solid tumor, no chemotherapy, and in remission
  • Chicken Pox: defer donation until four weeks after recovery
  • Colds, fever, flu, sore throat: defer until symptoms (sore throat, cough, respiratory infection, headache) are completely gone
  • Dengue: defer donation until four weeks after recovery
  • Dermatitis: defer donation if severe
  • Diabetes: defer donation if on medication
  • Diarrhea: defer donation until three weeks after recovery
  • Eczema: defer donation if severe
  • Food Poisoning: defer donation until one week after full recovery
  • Gastroenteritis: defer donation until one week after full recovery
  • Heart attack: defer until longer than one year since, and no symptoms present; the attending physician must carefully evaluate
  • Heart surgery, Coronary artery bypass surgery (CABG) or angioplasty: defer until one year after surgery, if no history of heart attack, and the donor is on no medication for the heart (aspirin is okay)
  • Herpes (genital): defer until four weeks after lesions completely clear
  • Malaria; had Malaria in last three years: defer donation for three years after full recovery (also see Travel and Residency Restrictions below)
  • Pregnancy and Miscarriage: defer until after six weeks of full term normal delivery. Can donate six weeks after termination in third trimester. First or second trimester miscarriage defer until stable
  • Sexually transmitted diseases - one year deferral
  • Spondylosis: defer until not being treated and you are feeling well.
  • Surgery (all): defer until after healed and released from physician care.
  • Thyroid: for Hypothyroid, can donate if feeling well and euthyroid on thyroxine for six months. Hyperthyroid: defer until euthyroid for six months.
  • Tuberculosis: defer until two years after complete cure
  • Viral Infection: defer until after cure and off treatment
  • Worms: defer until complete cure


  • Accutane: four-week deferral
  • Antibiotics: 72-hour deferral after infection is healed
  • Anti-inflammatory drugs (Advil, Ibuprofen, Motrin and Naprosyn): may not be taken within 24 hours before a platelet donation (some other rules may apply)
  • Aspirin-containing products or Feldene and Lodine XL: may not donate within 36 hours before platelet donation
  • Soriatane (Acitretin): three-year deferral
  • Thyroid medication: can donate if stabilized


  • Polio, mumps, smallpox: two-week or more deferral
  • Rubella or Rubeola (types of measles): four week deferral
  • Tetanus, diphtheria, flu, Hepatitis B: defer until any reaction is over


  • Acupuncture: one-year deferral
  • Alcohol: defer donation if consumed in last 12 hours
  • Body piercing: one-year deferral
  • Cocaine: taking through the nose (snorting); one-year deferral minimum, local blood authority will prevail
  • Dental work:
    • Cleaning and fillings: one-day deferral
    • Root canal: three-day deferral after work is complete
  • Ear piercing: can donate if the piercing was performed in a doctor's office (with written verification) otherwise, one-year deferral
  • Electrolysis: one-year deferral
  • Hepatitis exposure: one-year deferral
  • Rape: one-year deferral
  • Tattoo: one-year deferral
  • Transfusion: one-year deferral if transfusion with blood products. (Can donate if undergone autologous transfusion only)


  • England/United Kingdom - visited or lived in from 1980 to 1999: deferred indefinitely (this standard varies between United States FDA and The American Red Cross and the American Association of Blood Banks.
  • Western Europe - visited or lived in since 1980 deferred indefinitely
  • Lived or traveled in an area where Malaria is prevalent (Central America and South America, etc.): three-year deferral
  • Other international travelers: different restrictions apply as precaution against mad cow disease, depending on what blood bank and region

For up-to-date information or opinions about American Red Cross rules about Blood donor deferrals, call 1-800-448-3543.Thank you for considering blood donation, and for keeping our blood supply safe!

The Gift Relationship: From Human Blood to Social Policy
Amazon Price: $31.00 $21.95 Buy Now
(price as of May 5, 2016)
A fascinating and informative read about blood donation and larger effects on society. Should blood donors be paid? Where should the blood go? and many other questions are asked and answered in this intriguing book.