Coronavirus Update:What patients and families need to know
Blood Donor Eligibility Criteria
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) changed some of the eligibility criteria for blood donation in April 2020. Deferral rules with respect to blood exposure, risk of sexually transmitted diseases, variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (mad cow disease) and travel-related disease exposures were modified. As a result, some donors who were previously ineligible to donate may now be eligible.
On June 25, the Children’s National Blood Donor Center implemented these changes. We recommend checking these headings in particular for more information about the changes:
Donors who have undergone acupuncture treatments with licensed providers are acceptable.
You must be at least 17 years old to donate. There is no upper age limit for blood donation as long as you are well with no restrictions or limitations to your activities.
Acceptable as long as you feel well, have no fever and have no problems breathing through your mouth.
You may not donate if you currently have an infection. Generally, you should wait at least three days after treatment is complete and you are feeling well. If you received antibiotics by injection, you should wait one week after the last dose since those medications are for more serious infections. If you are using topical antibiotics for acne alone, you can donate blood.
Antiretroviral Therapy (ART)/Pre and Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP and PEP) for HIV/AIDS
If you have taken any medications to prevent HIV/AIDS due to exposure risk, you must wait 3 months from your last dose before donating. If you have taken any medications to treat HIV/AIDS, you are not eligible to donate. See important notice from the FDA.
You cannot donate platelets if you have taken aspirin in the past 48 hours because the medication prevents platelets from working. However, you can donate whole blood (red blood cells and plasma) even if you have recently taken aspirin.
Acceptable as long as asthma is well controlled, you have no activity restrictions, you are not having breathing difficulties and you feel well on the day of donation.
If you have chronic lung conditions, you should be asymptomatic without shortness of breath before donating. Please call the Blood Donor Center to inquire about your specific condition.
Women on oral contraceptives or using other forms of birth control are eligible to donate.
Bleeding Conditions/Blood Diseases
If you have a bleeding condition, this may make it unsafe to donate blood due to excessive bleeding. Many blood diseases will defer you from donating blood. Please call the Blood Donor Center to inquire about your specific condition.
Blood Pressure (including Hypertension)
To ensure your safety, the FDA only allows blood donation if your blood pressure is between 90/50 and 180/100 mm Hg (first number is systolic pressure; second number is diastolic pressure).
For most blood thinners, you must wait at least one month after stopping the medication to prevent excessive bleeding during the needle stick.
If you are taking medications with aspirin, you can donate whole blood but must wait at least 48 hours before donating platelets.
Blood Transfusion/Blood Exposure
If you received a blood transfusion in the United Kingdom, Ireland or France since 1980, you cannot donate blood.
If you received a blood transfusion in the United States or another country, wait three months before donating blood.
If you were exposed to someone else’s blood, for example through a needle stick, wait three months before donating blood.
You cannot donate blood if you have had a blood cancer such as leukemia or lymphoma. For most invasive cancers, you may donate if it has been at least one year since treatment completion and you have remained free of cancer.
Most chronic illnesses are acceptable as long as you feel well, the condition is under control and you meet all other eligibility requirements.
Cold or Flu
Do not donate if you have a fever, cold, flu, wet cough, sore throat, difficulty breathing, diarrhea or abdominal symptoms. Wait three days after you have completed treatment and feel well.
If you had COVID-19 symptoms, you must wait 14 days from resolution of symptoms to donate. If you had a positive swab test, you must wait 14 days before donating blood, even if you have no symptoms.
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.
Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease Variant (Mad Cow Disease)
You may not donate blood if you lived:
- Three months cumulatively in the United Kingdom from the beginning of 1980 through the end of 1996
- Five years or more in France and/or Ireland from the beginning of 1980 through the end of 2001
The separate restrictions that previously applied to being stationed on U.S. military bases in Europe no longer apply. Please call the Blood Donor Center for further information if this applies to you.
For minor procedures such as fillings and cleanings, you may donate as long as you have no swelling or inflammation. For more complex procedures such as tooth extraction or root canals, wait three days (72 hours).
If your diabetes is well controlled on insulin or oral medications, you are eligible to donate.
Wait at least eight weeks between whole blood (standard) donations. Wait at least 14 days between platelet (apheresis) donations.
Donor Deferral for Men Who Have Had Sex with Men (MSM)
Male donors must wait at least 3 months after having sex with another man before donating blood. All additional blood donation eligibility criteria apply.
You are not eligible to donate if you have ever had Ebola virus infection or disease.
You should have been medically evaluated and treated, have no current heart related symptoms such as chest pain and have no limitations or restrictions on your normal daily activities. For heart attack or heart surgery, please wait at least twelve months; for irregular heart rate, please wait at least six months. Ask your physician if it is safe for you to donate blood. You many also call the Blood Donor Center for additional information.
If you are taking aspirin for the heart condition, you are not eligible to donate platelets.
If you have hemochromatosis (a disorder where your body absorbs too much iron), you cannot donate blood.
Hepatitis or Jaundice
You cannot donate blood during a hepatitis or jaundice episode. If the cause is infectious (hepatitis A for example), wait one year before donating. If the cause is not infectious (gallbladder disease for example), wait until symptoms have resolved and you feel well. If you have ever tested positive for hepatitis B or hepatitis C, you 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. Even if the disease is well controlled with anti-retroviral treatment, you are not eligible to donate blood. See important notice from the FDA.
You should not give blood if you have any of the following conditions that can be signs or symptoms of HIV/AIDS: fever, enlarged lymph nodes, sore throat or rash.
Interval before donation eligibility depends on type of immunization and reason for shot. If vaccine contains inactive pathogen, you can donate the same day as long as you feel well. If vaccine contains attenuated pathogen (weakened but still alive), you may need to wait up to one month. If you received a vaccine due to exposure risk, you may need to wait up to one year.
We recommend calling the Blood Donor Center about particular vaccines/shots you have recently received.
Infection Risk Due to Close Contacts/ Incarceration
For certain potential exposures to infections, you must wait one year before donating. Risk factors include living with or having had sexual contact with a person who has hepatitis, or incarceration in prison or jail for more than 72 consecutive hours (three days).
If you have a fever or an active infection, wait until you have completed treatment and infection has resolved completely before donating blood.
Intravenous Drug Use
If you have used intravenous drugs not prescribed by a physician, you must wait at least 3 months before donating blood.
Iron (Hemoglobin Level)
Iron is a key ingredient in hemoglobin. If your hemoglobin level is too low, you will not be eligible to donate. A female blood donor must have a hemoglobin between 12.5 and 18.4 g/dL; a male donor must have a hemoglobin between 13 and 18.4 g/dL.
If you are taking a medication for any infection, you should wait until treatment is complete and you feel well again.
Most medications do not disqualify you from donating as long as the underlying medical control is well controlled. This is to ensure safety for the blood donor and transfusion recipient. Please call the blood donor center if you have questions about your medications.
Certain medications have waiting periods before you can donate. This includes some drugs derived from human or animal sources.
Take a look at the list of medications that may affect your eligibility to donate blood.
You may not donate if you have received an organ transplant or living animal tissue. Non-living animal tissues such as bone, tendon or heart valves are acceptable but you must wait 3 months.
Wait six weeks after giving birth for donating blood. There is no deferral for nursing.
Women who have been pregnant cannot donate platelets or plasma until they have been tested for human leukocyte antigen (HLA) antibodies and found to be negative.
Sexually Transmitted Diseases
You should wait three months after being treated for syphilis, gonorrhea and chlamydia. You may not donate if you have active genital herpes. You cannot donate if you have been diagnosed with HIV/AIDS, hepatitis B or hepatitis C.
Sickle Cell Disease
If you have sickle cell trait, you can donate plasma or platelets. If you have sickle cell disease, you cannot donate blood.
Skin Disease, Rash or Acne
Acceptable as long as symptoms are limited to the skin (no fever, no breathing difficulties) and do not involve area over vein for blood collection. If you have a skin or deeper tissue infection, wait until the infection has cleared before donating. If you are using topical antibiotics for acne alone, you can donate blood.
Surgeries and Procedures
Generally, you should wait until you have been released from medical care, are healed, feel well and full activity has resumed (minimum of 3 days). Longer waiting times apply for certain organs such as the heart. You will be asked about underlying medications when you come to donate.
Tattoo, Body Piercing (including ears), Electrolysis or Scarring
If the procedure was performed in D.C., Maryland or Pennsylvania, you must wait three months from the procedure date before donating blood. If the procedure was performed in a state-regulated facility in Virginia or West Virginia, you can donate once the site has healed (generally 1 week).
Travel outside the United States and Canada can lead to deferrals due to risk of exposure to various disease agents such as malaria. Your travel destinations will be reviewed at the time of donation. Most deferrals are for three months but we recommend calling the Blood Donor Center beforehand for more information.
You may donate if you are free of disease. If you are receiving treatment for exposure risk, wait until treatment is completed. If you had active lung infection, wait two years before donating.
Your weight must be between 110 and 350 lbs (50 to 159 kg) to donate. There are no height restrictions.