Key Reasons Why You May Not Be Eligible to Donate Blood

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( — November 8, 2021) — Every year, we see the medical community, some government departments, and various non-profit organizations encouraging people to come in and donate their blood. Millions of people need to access blood annually, so it’s essential for hospitals, clinics, and other places to stay well-stocked. 

If you’ve been thinking about giving a blood donation in the coming months, that’s a significant step to take to help others. However, keep in mind that sometimes there are reasons why some patients’ blood isn’t eligible for collection. Here’s what you need to know.

Recent Travel 

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Recent travel may exclude you from giving up some of your blood. Not all travel is an issue, though. If you’ve been out of the US and Canada lately, your travel destinations while away will be reviewed when you submit yourself for testing. The reason for this is that you could have been exposed to blood-borne illnesses such as malaria or dengue fever, Ebola, or Zika virus, among other things. 

Regardless of how careful you were when on vacation or away for work, you could have caught something and not realized it, especially if you were somewhere with a higher risk of infections. If you’ve been overseas in the past three years, come prepared to the donation clinic with the necessary travel data. 

There’s typically a travel form you can fill in that looks at things like which countries you visited and where, specifically, in those nations, the transportation you used, length of your state, date of return, etc. You may have to complete a waiting period before being eligible to give blood if you’ve traveled anywhere considered a risk. 

Bad Cold or Flu

A bad cold or flu is annoying and inconvenient. However, this sickness can also rule you out of donating your blood for a time. If you have a fever or cough or feel unwell on the day you’re scheduled to give blood, it’s best to cancel and reschedule when you feel better. Donation clinics don’t want to see the spread of illnesses so ask those who aren’t feeling well to stay away until they’re symptom-free. 

Your Weight is Too Low

Did you know that you have to be above a certain weight to give blood? To be eligible, you must be at least 110 pounds, and you also need to have excellent general health. Anyone under the age of 18 has to meet specific weight and height requirements, in particular. Anyone underweight or who has low iron in their blood for any other reason isn’t allowed to donate since they could faint or become too weakened by the process. 

Your Age is Too Low 

Something else that can’t be too low is your age. Anyone younger than 16 years old is not permitted to donate blood. Children who are 16 can give blood if they have written permission from their parents or guardians, though, provided they reach the weight requirements. (This is affected by some state laws, too.) Teenagers who are 17 years old and everyone above that age can donate when they’d like without restrictions or limitations. There isn’t an upper age limit for donating; however, the older someone is, the less likely it is that they might have the necessary health condition to give blood safely. 

Recent Tattoo or Piercing

Have you had a tattoo put on your body recently or gotten some type of piercing (including semi-permanent make-up that pierces the skin)? If so, you’ll need to wait a minimum of four months before you’re able to donate blood. Clinics want to ensure no one transfers the hepatitis virus or any other illnesses that they could have picked up from having their skin pierced in some way. 

Some Medications and Vaccinations

Taking some medications and receiving certain vaccinations can make you ineligible for a blood donation for a period, too. For example, people can’t give a sample if they take some acne and psoriasis medications, those for hair loss or prostate, or have recently been treated with antibiotics. You’re not allowed to give blood if you’ve had any type of infection within the fortnight or had a course of antibiotics in the last week. Some infections are transmissible in blood, which is why donation centers are so careful on this front. 

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Some other reasons you might be ineligible to donate blood include pregnancy, injection drug use, and numerous medical conditions. This latter category includes certain cancers, jaundice, and anyone in your family having Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease. If you’ve previously received blood transfusions during a medical procedure, you may be excluded from donating, and the same goes for some vaccinations. 

You’ll also get told you’re not eligible if you have a sexually transmitted disease or infection. The same goes for if you’ve engaged in particular sexual activity in the last 12 months, such as a man having had anal or oral sex with another male or anyone, male or female, sleeping with a sex worker. 

 Hopefully, you won’t tick any of the boxes listed above, so that way, you can help out the world and donate some of your blood. If you’re unsure, check with your local blood donation center for clarity.