You must be at least 17 years old, 110 pounds, and feeling healthy to donate blood. You must wait 56 days between each blood donation.
Some travel destinations or habits (like tattoos) might restrict you from donating for a period of time.
Please check the American Red Cross website to make sure you are eligible.
Frequently Asked Questions
Donors younger than 19 years old must also meet height and weight requirements. Consult the American Red Cross website for requirements.
Wait 12 months after a tattoo if the tattoo was applied in a state that does not regulate tattoo facilities.
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.
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.
Travel Outside of U.S., Immigration
Wait 12 months after travel in an area where malaria is found. Wait 3 years after living in a country or countries where malaria is found. Consult the American Red Cross website for requirements.
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.
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.
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.
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 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
- 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
- Were born in, or lived in, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Niger, or Nigeria since 1977
- Since 1977, received a blood transfusion or medical treatment with a blood product in any of these countries
- Had sex with anyone who, since 1977, was born in or lived in any of these countries
MSM One Year Deferral Policy
The MSM (men who have sex with men) policy states that any man who has had sex with a man (or a woman who has sex with a man who has had sex with a man) cannot donate blood until 12 months after their last MSM encounter. This is an FDA policy that the American Red Cross must adhere to and we must enforce at our drives.
However, we wish for our drives to be as inclusive as possible. We strongly encourage anyone who is ineligible to donate due to this restriction to bring in a friend for an "ally donation" in their stead. Additionally, if you would like to participate through volunteer work, please contact us for more information at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wait at least 8 weeks between whole blood (standard) donations.
Wait at least 3 days between plateletpheresis donations.
Wait at least 16 weeks between double red cell (automated) donations.
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.
You CAN donate whether or not you've had the flu shot.