A person donating blood.
Healthy Living

Myth vs. Fact: Who’s Eligible to Donate Blood?

Jan 31 2022
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Do you know if you’re eligible to donate blood? Even if you were deferred in the past, you may be able to give blood now.

For most people, they are eligible to donate if they:

  • Are in good health: not feeling sick, any medical condition is currently under control
  • Are 17 years or older: some states allow 16 year olds to donate with parental permission
  • Weigh 110-plus pounds

Check out these myths and facts about blood donation eligibility according to the American Red Cross (ARC).

Myth: There are plenty of people who donate blood.

Fact: While many Americans are eligible, only 3 percent of them actually donate blood. This makes your donation all the more meaningful. Every two seconds, someone in the U.S. needs blood due to things like an accident, surgery or cancer.

Myth: I can’t give blood after getting tattoos.

Fact: Even people with ink can donate. At most, you may have to wait a short period of time. But in many states, you can give blood right after getting a tattoo as long as the tattoo was done at a state-regulated entity using sterile needles and single-use ink.

Myth: If I’ve traveled overseas recently, I can’t donate blood.

Fact: You may still be able to give blood even after recent travel. It depends on where you went and other factors. Read more about travel requirements to learn if you’re eligible to donate now or if you should wait before giving. You can also speak with an ARC eligibility specialist by calling 866-236-3276.

Myth: I can’t donate blood if I’m taking medications or recently got a vaccination.  

Fact: Taking medicine as prescribed and getting your routine vaccinations are important for your health. In most cases, you can still donate blood. Many medications are OK to take when donating. Depending on the type of vaccine, you may have a waiting period before you can give blood. See the ARC’s information on eligibility for medications and vaccinations.

If you’re sick or don’t feel well, please wait to donate blood until you’re feeling better. You can read the ARC’s FAQs about eligibility for more details about specific situations.

The American Red Cross has declared the worst blood shortage in more than a decade. The people in your community need your blood donation right now. You can find an ARC blood drive near you.


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