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Who Can Donate Blood? 8 Common Misconceptions

Who Can Donate Blood? 8 Common Misconceptions

The US is in the midst of a blood shortage—the worst scarcity in over a decade. Donating blood is called “the gift of life” because it may mean the difference between life and death for those in need. A single donation can save as many as three lives, and right now, donating is more crucial than ever.

Unfortunately, misconceptions around eligibility may keep some from donating. According to the Red Cross, fewer than 10% of eligible individuals actually donate every year. Check out these blood donation facts to learn about who is able to give, and why giving blood may benefit your own health, too.

You can still donate blood if:

1. You have tattoos

If your tattoo is from a state-regulated tattoo parlor that uses sterile needles and un-recycled ink, you may donate blood after three months.

2. You’re vaccinated

Without symptoms or side effects, you can give blood right after the COVID-19 vaccine or flu shot. For the COVID vaccine, you’ll need to know the type of shot you received (Pfizer, Moderna, or Johnson & Johnson). If you’re not sure, you’ll have to wait at least 2 weeks after receiving COVID the vaccine to donate.

3. You’re breastfeeding

Pregnant women are not permitted to give blood, and it is also not recommended to give blood within the first 6 weeks after giving birth. However, if your doctor does not advise against it, blood donation is still an option if you are breastfeeding.

4. You’re diabetic

As long as the disease is under control and being monitored by your doctor, diabetic individuals are able to donate blood.

5. You have high blood pressure

Someone with high blood pressure may be a donor if his or her reading is under 180 (systolic) and 100 (diastolic) at the time of donation.  Being on blood pressure medication does not disqualify someone from eligibility.

6. You have an STI

If you’ve met all other requirements, having an STI does not necessarily mean that you’re ineligible to give blood. However, you should verify any guidelines based on your specific health situation—there may be up to a three-month waiting period after completing treatment.  In certain cases, your health could restrict your donation, for example, if you are HIV positive or a carrier of hepatitis B or C.

7. You’re under 18

In Pennsylvania, you can donate if you are 16 or older. 16-year-old donors will need parental consent, to weigh at least 110 lbs, and to meet all other donor requirements.

8. You’re menstruating

 Menstruating women who meet the required hemoglobin levels are still able to donate. At the time of donation, every potential donor must pass a hemoglobin reading, which is a protein in your blood that contains iron. Menstruation reduces your hemoglobin but does not make you ineligible unless your levels are too low.

The Gift of Life

When you donate blood, remember that you’re not only helping someone in need – you’re helping yourself! There are numerous health benefits:

  • May reduce the risk of heart attack by reducing built-up iron levels in the body
  • A single donation burns about 650 calories
  • It’s a free health check, testing for diseases like HIV and Hepatitis, checking hemoglobin levels, your body temp, and blood pressure
  • If you sign up for a donor card or profile, you’ll learn your blood type
  • It can actually lower stress simply by doing something good for someone else

Someone needs blood every 2 seconds in the United States. Donating blood is the best way to make a difference! If you’re eligible, find a local blood drive and sign up today.  For health concerns and urgent care needs, remember that your neighborhood vybe is here for you.