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Eligibility FAQ

Am I eligible to donate blood? You can find many eligibility questions listed below. Please do not self defer. Your blood donation could help save lives today! 

FAQ's

Donors who present and testing indicates a low iron result, you will not be eligible to donate blood. We understand that rescheduling can be frustrating, but your health and safety is a top priority. Low iron is one of the most common reasons for a blood-donation deferral. When your iron is low, donating blood will cause your levels to drop even further, leaving you feeling tired and faint. It also affects your ability to generate new red blood cells and can cause a longer recovery time. Eating many types of red meat, fortified cereal, and leafy green vegetables may help.Find out more about low iron and blood donations here

If your diabetes is being treated and is under control, you are most likely able to donate blood. You should let your doctor know that you plan to donate blood. Read our blog to learn more

Most localized skin cancers are not a reason to stop you from donating blood. Because many different types of cancer exist, we will ask you a few questions regarding your diagnosis, and in some cases the blood center medical director may make the final determination on the deferral. Most often, people who are free of relapse a year after completion of treatment are able to donate blood.

People who received a tattoo at a state-licensed and regulated facility are now eligible to donate blood once the area has healed. People who received a tattoo at a non-regulated facility must wait 12-months before they can donate blood.

People who received any type of body piercing done with single use equipment are now eligible to donate blood once the area has healed. All other types of piercings require a 12-month wait before donating blood.

OneBlood welcomes blood donations from donors 16 years old and older. 16 year-old donors, however, must present a signed permission form from their parent or a guardian before the blood donation.

And you are never too old to donate blood. If you are in good health, and qualify for other eligibility guidelines, you can donate blood regardless of age. A number of regular donors over the age of 80 give blood with OneBlood.

The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has implemented regulations to protect the blood supply against the risk of mad cow disease, variant Creutzfeldt- Jacob Disease (vCJD), a fatal infection of the brain and nerve tissue. Currently, blood donors are indefinitely deferred if: 

  • 3 months cumulative time spent in the U.K. (i.e., England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales, the Isle of Man, the Channel Islands, Gibraltar, or the Falkland Islands) including military service between 1980 to 1996.
  • 5 years cumulative time spent in France or Ireland from 1980 to 2001. Note that this assessment does not include time spent in the U.K, which is evaluated separately.
  • History of ever receiving a blood transfusion in the U.K. (i.e., England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales, the Isle of Man, the Channel Islands, Gibraltar, or the Falkland Islands), France, or Ireland from 1980 to the present.

Please call our Donor Advocacy department at 888-936-6283 extension 33858, if you have previously been: 

  • Deferred for 5 years of cumulative time in Europe other than in France or Ireland
  • Deferred for military service in Europe outside of France, Ireland or UK (i.e., England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales, the Isle of Man, the Channel Islands, Gibraltar, or the Falkland Islands)

People who travel to countries where malaria is endemic will be deferred from donating blood for three months upon returning to the United States.

Donors are required to feel well at the time of the blood donation, so a cold, flu, or allergies may temporarily prevent someone from donating blood. Donors must wait at least 24 hours for many minor surgeries, including dental work. Donors should rely on our screening process to determine surgery or illness deferrals. Many times the blood center medical director may make this determination.

Pregnant women are not eligible to donate blood, but they become eligible six weeks after giving birth. Women who are nursing are encouraged to drink plenty of water both before and after donating blood.

Because of a medical condition known TRALI (transfusion-related acute lung injury), blood centers may question women about prior pregnancies. The question is intended to protect the recipient of the donated blood, since pregnancy may cause women to develop antibodies that could harm a recipient patient.

The blood center is heavily regulated and mandated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). As such, each donor must meet certain eligibility requirements in order to donate blood. If a donor does not meet one or more of the eligibility requirements they would be deferred from donating blood that day. 

It depends on the reason you were deferred. Some deferrals are temporary and others are permanent. For example, if a donor’s iron count is too low they would be temporarily deferred until they are able to get their iron levels into the necessary range by eating iron rich foods

FDA Blood Donor Deferral Policy

Regarding Men Who Have Sex With Men (MSM)

Q: Did the FDA Change Its Policy Regarding Men Who Have Sex with Men (MSM)?

Yes. On April 2, 2020 the U.S. Food and Drug (FDA) announced changes to its donor eligibility policy titled: Revised Recommendations for Reducing the Risk of Human Immunodeficiency Virus Transmission by Blood and Blood Products”.  

The policy change shortens the deferral criteria for Men Who Have Sex with Men (MSM) from twelve months to three months. OneBlood will implement the new MSM policy effective May 15, 2020.

Q: Can I donate if I was deferred under the previous 12 month deferral policy for MSM?

People who were deferred under the previous twelve month deferral policy for MSM and who may now meet the new three month MSM deferral policy, must contact the OneBlood Donor Advocacy team to have their donor profile updated in our computer systemIf the person’s donor profile is not updated accordingly, the person will remain deferred. 

It is strongly recommended that people contact OneBlood’s Donor Advocacy team before attempting to donate so the most current information is reflected in our computer system in advance of a donation attempt. (OneBlood’s Donor Advocacy number is listed below).

First time donors do not have to contact Donor Advocacy.

Please note, all donors are required to answer a series of questions on the FDA’s Donor History Questionnaire (DHQ) before donating.  Depending on the answers, there may be other circumstances that can cause a person to be deferred.

Q: How do I contact OneBlood’s Donor Advocacy team?

The OneBlood Donor Advocacy team can be reached at 1.888.936.6283 extension 33858.  Team members are available Monday – Friday between 8:00am and 4:30pm.

Q: Are there other donor eligibility criteria I will need to meet in order to donate?

Yes. To help ensure donor safety and safety of the blood supply, the FDA requires that all potential blood donors answer a series of questions on the Donor History Questionnaire (DHQ) prior to donation. The DHQ is provided to donors when they present to donate at a OneBlood donor center or at a Big Red Bus blood drive.  Depending on the answers provided on the DHQ, there may be circumstances that can cause a person to be deferred.

Q: Does OneBlood support the FDA’s policy change regarding Men Who Have Sex with Men?

Yes, OneBlood supports the change and will implement the new MSM policy effective May 15, 2020. The changes are based on data from new studies showing the change can safely expand the nation’s blood supply. 

OneBlood remains committed to additional research studies that can help guide future donor eligibility policies that are based on individual donation risk assessment rather than singling out a particular group of individuals.

Most medications do not disqualify you from donating blood however the condition you are being treated for may result in you being deferred from donating. See below for a general list of medications that could impact your ability to donate.

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