Count off six seconds. One, two, three, four, five, six.
While you were counting, three people in the U.S. needed blood. Maybe one had cancer and needed a transfusion during chemotherapy. One might have been a child with sickle cell disease who will need blood throughout her life. And one may have needed blood because he was in a car accident. (A person injured in a car accident can require up to 100 pints of blood, according to the American Red Cross.)
Donating blood is a safe, easy way to save a life—or two, since a single donation can be used to help more than one person. It won’t take a lot of time out of your day. And it’s easy to find a blood drive near you.
Blood donation rules to remember
Anyone age 17 and older—or 16 in some states—can give blood if they meet eligibility requirements. These blood donation rules are in place to ensure everyone’s safety—yours as a donor and that of people who receive your blood.
You can donate blood if:
- You meet the age requirements of your state.
- You weigh at least 110 pounds. (People 18 and younger may need to weigh more, depending on their height.)
- You’re in good health and feeling well.
You also can donate even if you:
- Are using birth control pills or other forms of contraception.
- Are taking hormone replacement therapy.
- Were recently vaccinated for the flu, tetanus or meningitis and you feel well.
- Have had an HPV vaccine.
- Have allergies or asthma.
- Have well-controlled high blood pressure or diabetes.
- Have heart disease but have had no problems or procedures in six months.
Blood donation restrictions
You’ll be asked some questions before giving blood. Your answers will help decide whether there are any reasons you shouldn’t donate blood.
You might not be able to give blood if you:
- Have a fever or a cold.
- Have been exposed to hepatitis or the Zika virus.
- Have AIDS, are HIV-positive or are at risk for HIV.
- Have sickle cell disease or tuberculosis.
- Have been treated for syphilis or gonorrhea in the last 12 months.
- Are taking antibiotics or prescription blood thinners.
- Have been vaccinated for the German measles, mumps, chickenpox or other diseases in the last four weeks.
- Have had a blood transfusion in the last 12 months.
- Have traveled to areas with malaria.
- Have used intravenous drugs not prescribed by a doctor.
- Are pregnant.
- Recently got a tattoo or body piercing.
If you’re not able to donate blood
Even if you’re not able to donate today, you may be able to give blood in the future. Many restrictions are temporary.
In the meantime, you can support the nation’s blood banks by:
- Hosting or volunteering at a blood drive.
- Making a financial donation to the American Red Cross to help support blood drives.
- Encouraging other people to donate blood.
What about plasma?
Most people donate whole blood. But you also can choose to donate blood products—such as plasma. Learn more about plasma and how it can be used to save lives.