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Eligibility Criteria by Topic

 

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Medications and Vaccinations

Antibiotics

A donor with an acute infection should not donate. The reason for antibiotic use must be evaluated to determine if the donor has a bacterial infection that could be transmissible by blood.
Acceptable after finishing oral antibiotics for an infection (bacterial or viral). May have taken last pill on the date of donation. Antibiotic by injection for an infection acceptable 10 days after last injection. Acceptable if you are taking antibiotics to prevent an infection, for example, following dental procedures or for acne. Some conditions which require antibiotics to prevent an infection must still be evaluated at the time of donation by the responsible medical director. If you have a temperature above 99.5 F, you may not donate.

Aspirin

Birth Control

Women on oral contraceptives or using other forms of birth control are eligible to donate.

Immunization, Vaccination

  • Acceptable if you were vaccinated for influenza, tetanus or meningitis, providing you are symptom-free and fever-free. Includes the Tdap vaccine.
  • Acceptable if you received an HPV Vaccine (example, Gardasil).
  • Wait 4 weeks after immunizations for German Measles (Rubella), MMR (Measles, Mumps and Rubella), Chicken Pox and Shingles.
  • Wait 2 weeks after immunizations for Red Measles (Rubeola), Mumps, Polio (by mouth), and Yellow Fever vaccine.
  • Wait 21 days after immunization for hepatitis B as long as you are not given the immunization for exposure to hepatitis B.
  • Smallpox vaccination and did not develop complications
    Wait 8 weeks (56 days) from the date of having a smallpox vaccination as long as you have had no complications. Complications may include skin reactions beyond the vaccination site or general illness related to the vaccination.
  • Smallpox vaccination and developed complications
    Wait 14 days after all vaccine complications have resolved or 8 weeks (56 days) from the date of having had the smallpox vaccination whichever is the longer period of time. You should discuss your particular situation with the health historian at the time of donation. Complications may include skin reactions beyond the vaccination site or general illness related to the vaccination.
  • Smallpox vaccination – close contact with someone who has had the smallpox vaccine in the last eight weeks and you did not develop any skin lesions or other symptoms.
    Eligible to donate.
  • Smallpox vaccination – close contact with someone who has had the vaccine in the last eight weeks and you have since developed skin lesions or symptoms.
    Wait 8 weeks (56 days) from the date of the first skin lesion or sore. You should discuss your particular situation with the health historian at the time of donation. Complications may include skin reactions or general illness related to the exposure.

Insulin (Bovine)

Donors with diabetes who since 1980, ever used bovine (beef) insulin made from cattle from the United Kingdom are not eligible to donate. This requirement is related to concerns about variant CJD, or 'mad cow' disease. Learn more about variant CJD and blood donation.

Medications

In almost all cases, medications will not disqualify you as a blood donor. Your eligibility will be based on the reason that the medication was prescribed. As long as the condition is under control and you are healthy, blood donation is usually permitted.

Over-the-counter oral homeopathic medications, herbal remedies, and nutritional supplements are acceptable.
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, Amnesteem, Claravis or Sotret (isoretinoin), Proscar (finasteride), and Propecia (finasteride) - wait 1 month from the last dose.
 – Avodart or Jalyn (dutasteride) - wait 6 months from the last dose. 
 – Aspirin, no waiting period for donating whole blood. However you must wait 48 hours after taking aspirin or any medication containing aspirin before donating platelets by apheresis. 
 – Effient (prasugrel) - wait 14 days after taking this medication before donating platelets by apheresis.
 – Feldene (piroxicam) - no waiting period for donating whole blood. However, you must wait 48 hours after taking Feldene (piroxicam) before donating platelets by apheresis.
– Coumadin (warfarin), heparin, Pradaxa (dabigatran), Xarelto (rivaoxaban) or Lovenox (enoxaparin) or other prescription blood thinners - you should not donate since your blood will not clot normally. If your doctor discontinues your treatment with blood thinners, wait 7 days before returning to donate.
– Hepatitis B Immune Globulin - given for exposure to hepatitis. Wait 12 months after exposure to hepatitis.
– Human pituitary - derived growth hormone at any time - you are not eligible to donate blood.
– Plavix (clopidogrel) - wait 14 days after taking this medication before donating platelets by apheresis.
– Soriatane (acitretin) - wait 3 years.
– Tegison (etretinate) - at any time - you are not eligible to donate blood.
– Ticlid (ticlopidine) - wait 14 days after taking this medication before donating platelets by apheresis. 
 

General Health Considerations

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.

Cold, Flu

Wait if you have a fever or a productive cough (bringing up phlegm)
Wait if you do not feel well on the day of donation.
Wait until you have completed antibiotic treatment for sinus, throat or lung infection.

Donation Intervals

Wait at least 8 weeks between whole blood (standard) donations.
Wait at least 7 days between platelet (pheresis) donations.
Wait at least 16 weeks between double red cell (automated) donations.

Weight/Height

You must weigh at least 110 lbs to be eligible for blood donation for your own safety. Students who donate at high school drives and donors 18 years of age or younger must also meet additional height and weight requirements for whole blood donation (applies to girls shorter than 5'6" and boys shorter than 5').

Blood volume is determined by body weight and height. Individuals with low blood volumes may not tolerate the removal of the required volume of blood given with whole blood donation. There is no upper weight limit as long as your weight is not higher than the weight limit of the donor bed/lounge you are using. You can discuss any upper weight limitations of beds and lounges with your local health historian. 
 

Medical Conditions that Affect Eligibility

Allergies

Acceptable as long as you feel well, have no fever, and have no problems breathing through your mouth.

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.

Bleeding Condition

If you have a history of bleeding problems, you will be asked additional questions. If your blood does not clot normally, you should not donate since you may have excessive bleeding where the needle was placed. For the same reason, if you are taking any "blood thinner" (such as Coumadin (warfarin), heparin, Pradaxa (dabigatran), Xarelto (rivaoxaban) or Lovenox (enoxaparin)) you should not donate. If you are on aspirin, it is OK to donate whole blood. However, you must be off of aspirin for at least 48 hours in order to donate platelets by apheresis. Donors with clotting disorder from Factor V who are not on anticoagulants are eligible to donate; however, all others must be evaluated by the health historian at the collection center.

Blood Pressure (High or Low)

High Blood Pressure - Acceptable as long as your blood pressure is below 180 systolic (first number) and below 100 diastolic (second number) at the time of donation. Medications for high blood pressure do not disqualify you from donating.

Low Blood Pressure - Acceptable as long as you feel well when you come to donate, and your blood pressure is at least 80/50 (systolic/diastolic).

Cancer

Eligibility depends on the type of cancer and treatment history. If you had leukemia or lymphoma, including Hodgkin’s Disease and other cancers of the blood, you are not eligible to donate. Other types of cancer are acceptable if the cancer has been treated successfully and it has been more than 12 months since treatment was completed and there has been no cancer recurrence in this time. Lower risk in-situ cancers including squamous or basal cell cancers of the skin that have been completely removed do not require a 12 month waiting period.

Precancerous conditions of the uterine cervix 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.

Chronic Illnesses

Most chronic illnesses are acceptable as long as you feel well, the condition is under control, and you meet all other eligibility requirements.

CJD, vCJD, Mad Cow Disease

Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD) If you ever received a dura mater (brain covering) transplant or human pituitary growth hormone, you are not eligible to donate. Those who have a blood relative who had Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease are also not eligible to donate. Learn more about CJD.

Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease, Variant (vCJD); "Mad Cow Disease"

See under Travel Outside of U.S. Learn more about vCJD and blood donation.

Diabetes

Diabetics who are well controlled on insulin or oral medications are eligible to donate.

Heart Disease

In general , acceptable as long as you have been medically evaluated and treated, have no current (within the last 6 months) heart related symptoms such as chest pain and have no limitations or restrictions on your normal daily activities.

Wait at least 6 months following an episode of angina.

Wait at least 6 months following a heart attack.

Wait at least 6 months after bypass surgery or angioplasty.
 
Wait at least 6 months after a change in your heart condition that resulted in a change to your medications

If you have a pacemaker, you may donate as long as your pulse is between 50 and 100 beats per minute with no more than a small number of irregular beats, and you meet the other heart disease criteria. You should discuss your particular situation with your personal healthcare provider and the health historian at the time of donation.

Heart Murmur, Heart Valve Disorder

Acceptable if you have a heart murmur as long as you have been medically evaluated and treated and have not had symptoms in the last 6 months, and have no restrictions on your normal daily activities.

Hemochromatosis (Hereditary)

American Red Cross does not accept individuals with hemochromatosis as blood donors for other persons at this time. However, a pilot program for hemochromatosis donors has been completed and is being evaluated for possible system wide implementation.

Hemoglobin, Hematocrit, Blood Count

Acceptable if you have a hemoglobin at or above 12.5 g/dL.
Separate requirements for hemoglobin level apply for double red cell donations.

Hepatitis, Jaundice

If you had hepatitis (inflammation of the liver) caused by a virus, or unexplained jaundice (yellow discoloration of the skin), since age 11, you are not eligible to donate blood. This includes those who had hepatitis with Cytomegalovirus (CMV), or Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV), the virus that causes Mononucleosis.

Acceptable if you had jaundice or hepatitis caused by something other than a viral infection, for example: medications, Gilbert's disease, bile duct obstruction, alcohol, gallstones or trauma to the liver. If you ever tested positive for hepatitis B or hepatitis C, at any age, you are not eligible to donate, even if you were never sick or jaundiced from the infection.

Hepatitis Exposure

If you live with or have had sexual contact with a person who has hepatitis, you must wait 12 months after the last contact.
Persons who have been detained or incarcerated in a facility (juvenile detention, lockup, jail, or prison) for more than 72 consecutive hours (3 days) are deferred for 12 months from the date of last occurrence. This includes work release programs and weekend incarceration. These persons are at higher risk for exposure to infectious diseases.

Wait 12 months after receiving a blood transfusion (unless it was your own "autologous" blood), non-sterile needle stick/body piercing or exposure to someone else's blood.

HIV, AIDS

You should not give blood if you have AIDS or have ever had a positive HIV test, or if you have done something that puts you at risk for becoming infected with HIV.

You are at risk for getting infected if you:
  • have ever used needles to take drugs, steroids, or anything not prescribed by your doctor
  • are a male who has had sexual contact with another male, even once, since 1977
  • have ever taken money, drugs or other payment for sex since 1977
  • have had sexual contact in the past 12 months with anyone described above
  • received clotting factor concentrates for a bleeding disorder such as hemophilia

You should not give blood if you have any of the following conditions that can be signs or symptoms of HIV/AIDS:

  • unexplained weight loss (10 pounds or more in less than 2 months)
  • night sweats
  • blue or purple spots in your mouth or skin
  • white spots or unusual sores in your mouth
  • lumps in your neck, armpits, or groin, lasting longer than one month
  • diarrhea that won’t go away
  • cough that won’t go away and shortness of breath, or
  • fever higher than 100.5 F lasting more than 10 days.

Hypertension, High Blood Pressure

Infections

If you have a fever or an active infection, wait until the infection has resolved completely before donating blood.

Wait until finished taking antibiotics for an infection (bacterial or viral). Wait 10 days after the last antibiotic injection for an infection.

Those who have had infections with Chagas Disease or Babesiosis are not eligible to donate.

See also Antibiotics, Hepatitis, HIV, Syphilis/Gonorrhea, and Tuberculosis.

Malaria

Malaria is transmitted by the bite of mosquitoes found in certain countries and may be transmitted to patients through blood transfusion. Blood donations are not tested for malaria because there is no sensitive blood test available for malaria.

If you have traveled or lived in a malaria-risk country, we may require a waiting period before you can donate blood.

  • Wait 3 years after completing treatment for malaria.
  • Wait 12 months after returning from a trip to an area where malaria is found.
  • Wait 3 years after living 5 years or more in a country or countries where malaria is found.

If you have traveled outside of the United States and Canada, your travel destinations will be reviewed at the time of donation.

Please, come prepared to discuss your travel details when you donate. You may download the travel form and bring it with you to help in the assessment of your travel. You can call 866-236-3276 to speak with an eligibility specialist about your travel.

If, in the past 3 years, you have been outside the United States or Canada:

  • What countries did you visit?
  • Where did you travel while in this country?
  • Did you leave the city or resort at any time? If yes, where did you go?
  • What mode of transportation did you use?
  • How long did you stay?
  • What date did you return to the U.S.?

Sexually Transmitted Disease

Sickle Cell

Acceptable if you have sickle cell trait. Those with sickle cell disease are not eligible to donate.

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.

Tuberculosis

If you have active tuberculosis or are being treated for active tuberculosis you should not donate. Acceptable if you have a positive skin test, but no active tuberculosis, or if you are receiving antibiotics for a positive TB skin test only. If you are being treated for a tuberculosis infection, wait until treatment is successfully completed before donating.
 

Medical Treatments that Affect Eligibility

Acupuncture

Donors who have undergone acupuncture treatments are acceptable.

Blood Transfusion

Wait for 12 months after receiving a blood transfusion from another person in the United States.

You may not donate if you received a blood transfusion since 1980 in the United Kingdom or France (The United Kingdom consists of the following countries: England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Channel Islands, Isle of Man, Gibraltar or Falkland Islands). This requirement is related to concerns about variant CJD, or 'mad cow' disease. Learn more about variant CJD and blood donation.

Dental Procedures and Oral Surgery

Acceptable after dental procedures as long as there is no infection present. Wait until finishing antibiotics for a dental infection. Wait for 3 days after having oral surgery.

Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT)

Women on hormone replacement therapy for menopausal symptoms and prevention of osteoporosis are eligible to donate.

Organ/Tissue Transplants

Wait 12 months after receiving any type of organ transplant from another person. If you ever received a dura mater (brain covering) transplant, you are not eligible to donate. This requirement is related to concerns about the brain disease, Creutzfeld-Jacob Disease (CJD). Learn more about CJD and blood donation.

Surgery

It is not necessarily surgery but the underlying condition that precipitated the surgery that requires evaluation before donation.  Evaluation is on a case by case basis.  You should discuss your particular situation with the health historian at the time of donation.
 

Lifestyle and Life Events

Age

You must be at least 17 years old to donate to the general blood supply, or 16 years old with parental/guardian consent, if allowed by state law. Learn more about the reasons for a lower age limit. There is no upper age limit for blood donation as long as you are well with no restrictions or limitations to your activities.

Donor Deferral for Men Who Have Had Sex With Men (MSM)

The top priorities of the American Red Cross are the safety of our volunteer blood donors and the ultimate recipients of blood. On June 11, 2010, the Department of Health and Human Services Secretary's Advisory Committee on Blood Safety and Availability voted against recommending a change to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) policy of a lifetime deferral for men who have sex with other men. The FDA is responsible for determining donor eligibility requirements and the Red Cross is required to follow their decisions. However, the Red Cross does support the use of rational, scientifically-based deferral periods that are applied fairly and consistently among donors who engage in similar risk activities. We will continue to work through the AABB (American Association of Blood Banks) to press for donor deferral policies that are fair and consistent and based on scientific evidence, while still protecting patients from potential harm.

Intravenous Drug Use

Those who have ever used IV drugs that were not prescribed by a physician are not eligible to donate. This requirement is related to concerns about hepatitis and HIV. Learn more about hepatitis and blood donation.

Piercing (ears, body), Electrolysis

Acceptable as long as the instruments used were sterile or single-use equipment.

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. Learn more about hepatitis and blood donation.

Pregnancy, Nursing

Persons who are pregnant are not eligible to donate. Wait 6 weeks after giving birth.

Tattoo

Wait 12 months after a tattoo if the tattoo was applied in a state that does not regulate tattoo facilities. This requirement is related to concerns about hepatitis. Learn more about hepatitis and blood donation.

Acceptable if the tattoo was applied by a state-regulated entity using sterile needles and ink that is not reused. Cosmetic tattoos applied in a licensed establishment in a regulated state using sterile needles and ink that is not reused is acceptable. There are 40 states that currently regulate tattoo facilities. You should discuss your particular situation with the health historian at the time of donation.
 

Sexually Transmitted Diseases

Sexually Transmitted Disease

Wait 12 months after treatment for syphilis or gonorrhea.

Acceptable if it has been more than 12 months since you completed treatment for syphilis or gonorrhea.

Chlamydia, venereal warts (human papilloma virus), or genital herpes are not a cause for deferral if you are feeling healthy and well and meet all other eligibility requirements.

HIV, AIDS

Venereal Diseases

 
Wait 12 months after treatment for syphilis or gonorrhea.

Chlamydia, venereal warts (human papilloma virus), or genital herpes are not a cause for deferral if you are feeling healthy and well and meet all other eligibility requirements.

Syphilis/Gonorrhea

Wait 12 months after treatment for syphilis or gonorrhea.
 

Travel Outside the U.S., Immigration

Travel Outside the U.S., Immigration

You can be exposed to malaria through travel and travel in some areas can sometimes defer donors. If you have traveled outside of the United States and Canada, your travel destinations will be reviewed at the time of donation.

Come prepared to your donation process with your travel details when you donate. You may download the travel form and bring it with you to help in the assessment of your travel. You can call 866-236-3276 to speak with an eligibility specialist about your travel.

If, in the past 3 years, you have been outside the United States or Canada:

  • What countries did you visit?
  • Where did you travel while in this country?
  • Did you leave the city or resort at any time? If yes, where did you go?
  • What mode of transportation did you use?
  • How long did you stay?
  • What date did you return to the U.S.?

Malaria is transmitted by the bite of mosquitoes found in certain countries and may be transmitted to patients through blood transfusion. Blood donations are not tested for malaria because there is no sensitive blood test available for malaria.

If you have traveled or lived in a malaria-risk country, we may require a waiting period before you can donate blood

  • Wait 3 years after completing treatment for malaria.
  • Wait 12 months after returning from a trip to an area where malaria is found.
  • Wait 3 years after living 5 years or more in a country or countries where malaria is found.

Wait 12 months after travel to Iraq. This requirement is related to concerns about Leishmanaisis. Those who have had Leishmanaisis are not eligible to donate. See In-Depth Discussion of Leishmanaisis and Blood Donation below.

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 Jacob Disease (vCJD). Learn more about vCJD and donation.

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Last updated: 12/06/10
By: Richard J Benjamin, M.D., Ph.D, FRCPath and M.A.P., RN, BSN