The Blood Matters Blog ·

Can I Donate If?

Wondering if you can donate blood? Comb over our comprehensive eligibility guide and find out for yourself.

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Nearly five million Americans require a blood transfusion every year, which means that most of us have or will know someone in need of a critical blood donation at some point in our lives.

Despite such intense demand, less than five percent of U.S. residents give blood at least once annually. There are numerous reasons for this, but many of the donor-related questions we receive here at OBI can be placed into a single bucket: “Can I donate if ____?”

Below you’ll find answers to those frequently asked questions. We’re also available to discuss any health- and eligibility-related questions by phone, so if you think you might need additional info, call 888-308-3924 and one of our amazing donor care representatives will assist you.

Common Blood Donation Eligibility Questions

  • Can I Donate If...I'm Over 65?

    Yes! Provided you’re in good health and meet other eligibility requirements, you can give blood well over 65 years old. There’s no age cap whatsoever, in fact, and studies show that blood donation among healthy senior citizens is safe.

    More information for our seniors can be found here.

  • Can I Donate If...I'm Under 18?

    It depends. If you’re under 16 years old, you’ll unfortunately have to wait. Sixteen-year-olds can give blood if they can supply signed permission from a parent or guardian and weigh at least 125 pounds. Seventeen-year-olds also need to weigh at least 125 pounds but don’t need a parent’s or guardian’s signature. Finally, that weight requirement drops down to 110 pounds for anyone 18 years of age or older.

  • Can I Donate If...I Have Tattoos?

    More than likely, yes! As long as your tattoo is more than three months old and was obtained from a licensed facility, you’ll have no problem donating. If your tattoo is less than three months old, you can still donate if the tattoo came from a licensed facility in one of the following states: Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas, Colorado, New Mexico, Missouri, Kansas, California, Florida, Illinois, Louisiana, Mississippi.

  • Can I Donate If...I've Recently Traveled Outside the Country?

    It depends where you went. The location of your stay is important due to the threat of malaria and other localized infections and diseases. If you’ve recently traveled to a country with a high malaria risk, you may have to wait three months to donate. The countries with a high malaria designation tend to change frequently, so please reach out to us at 888-308-3924 for up-to-date information.

  • Can I Donate If...I'm Sick?

    No. If you’re running a fever or are feeling ill, you will need to wait until your symptoms pass before donating. If you’re taking an antibiotic to combat the illness, please wait seven days from your last dose before giving blood. If you are taking antibiotics for conditions like acne, however, you may be able to donate.

  • Can I Donate If...I'm on Medication?

    Very possibly! You may suspect that your medication could disqualify you from giving blood, but it’s likely that it won’t. Blood pressure, diabetes and cholesterol medications typically don’t prohibit a donor from giving, for instance. It’s more important that your pulse, blood pressure and temperature are within an acceptable range before giving blood.

  • Can I Donate If...I Use Medical Marijuana? If I Drank Alcohol Last Night?

    Yes. You are able to donate blood if not under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

  • Can I Donate If…I Have Had Cancer?

    Possibly. Cancer survivors can generally give blood one year after being declared cancer-free, although those who have had hematologic blood cancers like leukemia or lymphoma are permanently ineligible to donate.

  • Can I Donate If...I'm Pregnant?

    No. While we appreciate mothers wanting to give so generously during pregnancy, blood donations can only be conducted six or more weeks after delivery or the end of the pregnancy.

  • Can I Donate If...I've Already Donated This Year?

    Yes! Any eligible donor can give red blood cells as much as six times per year, eight weeks apart. If you’re feeling particularly giving, ask your phlebotomist about becoming a Power Red donor. Power Red donors can donate twice the amount of red blood cells than is possible through a standard donation through the use of a high-tech, specialized machine. Those who opt to become Power Red donors can give three times per year, every 112 days.

  • Can I Donate If...I'm Not Able to Give Blood?

    Actually, yes! Even if you’re unable to donate blood yourself, you can help save lives by volunteering at one of our blood drives and by encouraging those in your community to become donors themselves.