Printable Version

Donors Deferred for Low Hemoglobin

If you’re not eligible to give blood because of low hemoglobin

If you were deferred, for low hemoglobin, there may be steps you should take before you try to donate again.

It is important for blood donors to understand how hemoglobin may be affected by the level of iron in your blood. Read below to learn more detailed information.


Low Hemoglobin / Hematocrit

The hemoglobin test measures the amount of a protein called hemoglobin that carries oxygen in your red blood cells. We check your hemoglobin at every donation and it must be above the minimum value required for blood donation which is 12.5g/dL

What are normal hemoglobin levels in healthy adults?

Hemoglobin values in healthy people usually fall within the following ranges:

Men: 13.8 – 17.2 g/dL
Women: 12.1 – 15.1 g/dL

What could a low hemoglobin mean for me?

If you are deferred from blood donation, you may have a condition called anemia or your hemoglobin may be normal for you.

If you are a man who was deferred from blood donation you should talk to your doctor about the meaning of your test result. You should not attempt to donate blood again until you are evaluated by your doctor.

If you are a woman and your hemoglobin is still within the expected range but remains below 12.5 g/dL, then your usual hemoglobin is probably not high enough to allow you to donate.

If you are a woman who was deferred and has a hemoglobin below 12.1 g/dL, you should talk to you doctor about the meaning of your test result.

What causes hemoglobin to fall below the normal range?

Abnormally low hemoglobin – also called anemia – can develop when you do not make enough red blood cells or lose blood (for example, through frequent blood donation). The most common cause of mild anemia in otherwise healthy people – particularly women – is a low level of iron. Iron is needed to make hemoglobin. Blood donation removes iron from the body and may cause or contribute to low iron levels or anemia.

What should I do if my hemoglobin is in the expected range?

If your hemoglobin is within the expected range, we encourage you to eat a well-balanced diet with plenty of iron- and vitamin-C-rich foods and then try to donate again.

If you fall below the normal range, or have  been below 12.5 g/dL on more than one occasion, you should discuss the meaning of your result with your doctor.

If your low hemoglobin is due to low iron, you can replenish the supply by increasing your intake of high-iron foods or by taking iron supplements or multivitamins with iron.