Whether a loved one is battling leukemia, a friend is undergoing surgery or a disaster strikes, we often hear the call to "give blood." But if you've never donated before, what do you need to know, and what can you expect? BloodSource needs regular donations from donors of all blood types, and because there is no artificial substitute, blood is always needed.
You can become a donor as early as 16 and 17 years old with a signed parent consent form (available in English or Spanish) and can continue donating throughout your life.
BloodSource asks donors to “give what is needed today” because the amount and mix of various blood components needed to help patients on the road to recovery change daily.
Ways to donate
There are two ways you can donate blood – giving whole blood (most common) and giving red blood cells, platelets and plasma through automated donation. Most donors begin with giving whole blood and if they are eligible, they may be able to choose automated donation. Eligibility and frequency for different donation types – red cells, platelets and plasma – varies by age and gender. No matter which donation type you choose, every time you sit in the donation chair, you help save lives!
Want to know more about your eligibility? It’s not possible to include the comprehensive list. (It’s a book! Seriously… a very large book!) We’ve provided basic information. Please note while the following information may be helpful, final determination of eligibility is made by a BloodSource donor evaluator when donors present to donate.
If you have questions about your eligibility to be a blood donor, please contact us! We’re here to help you find your best lifesaving opportunity.
Am I eligible?
To give blood, you must:
You cannot give blood if you:
Parent Consent and Zika Virus Research Information.pdf
Spanish_Parent Consent Form and Zika Virus Research Information.pdf
Donors are asked about medications to indicate their general health. For example, someone who is taking drugs for cancer or heart disease will not be accepted as a blood donor.
Other medications may require that a blood donor be deferred temporarily (for example, antibiotics for an infection). If you have questions about your medications, please call us at 866.822.5663.
*Some medications and health conditions may impact source plasma donation eligibility
48-hour deferral if aspirin was taken. Tylenol® is acceptable if taken in moderate doses.
Whole blood donors:
Okay if not taken for cold or flu.
Blood pressure medication
Okay if donor meets requirement (equal to or below 180/100).
Birth control/hormone replacement
Okay if condition is stabilized.
Okay for skin problems (e.g., acne) only.
Accutane (isotretinoin), Proscar/ Propecia (finasteride)
One month deferral following last dose.
Okay if diabetes is controlled by diet or medication. (No change in medication for two weeks and free from complications.)
Allergy oral medications or injections*
Medications that are not acceptable:
Cannot donate if ever taken.
Cannot donate for three years after last dose.
Cannot donate for six months after last dose.
Yes. The following are potential limitations to your eligibility to give blood and those marked with * indicate source plasma donation eligibility varies.
Acne treatment: OK if taking antibiotics for acne, but one-month wait after having taken Accutane (isotretinoin).
AIDS: You cannot give blood if you are in a high-risk group for contracting AIDS. For a complete list of behaviors that disqualify people from giving blood because of high risk for AIDS, please call 800.995.4420.
Allergy*: Antihistamines and/or allergy injections okay.
Anemia: A trained technician will test a drop of your blood before you donate. If you are anemic, you will not be permitted to donate on that day. However, in healthy individuals, anemia is not a permanent condition. If you were told during a previous donation you were anemic, it does not necessarily mean that you cannot give blood now.
Body Piercing: Body piercing is okay if performed with single use or disposable equipment or performed in a doctor's office. Otherwise you must wait one year from time of procedure.
Cancer*: The type of cancer and your treatment history will determine your eligibility to donate. Lower risk cancers of the skin – including squamous cell and basal cell carcinomas that have been completely removed and treated – do not require a deferral. Most types of cancer are acceptable 12 months after treatment is successfully completed and cure/remission has been achieved.
Donors at Risk For Transmission Of Cruetzfeldt - Jacob Disease (CJD) or Variant Cruetzfeldt – Jacob Disease (vCJD): CJD is a rare but fatal degenerative disease of the central nervous system. vCJD is the human form of the "mad cow disease" which causes degenerative brain disease. If you were born in, have lived in, or have visited certain countries, you may not be eligible to donate. There is currently not a test for CJD or vCJD that could be used for blood donors. The FDA requires that donors who are at risk for CJD/vCJD be deferred to minimize the possible risk of transmission of these organisms via blood and blood products. Please refer to the Donor Education Sheet for specific information regarding eligibility.
Cold/Flu*: Must be symptom-free for at least three days. Do not give blood if you have a fever, stomach or body aches, chills, diarrhea, or sore throat.
Diabetes*: Acceptable if controlled by diet or medication, with no complications, and no medication change for two weeks.
Ear Piercing: Ear piercing is okay if done with a new earring and an ear piercing gun or single use or disposable equipment. Otherwise you must wait one year from time of procedure.
Drugs/Alcohol: If you are addicted to drugs or alcohol, do not give blood. I.V. drug users are at great risk for hepatitis and AIDS and may not give blood.
Heart Disease*: You may not be eligible to donate if you have had a recent heart attack, congestive heart failure, severe coronary artery disease, symptomatic heart disease, major congenital heart malformations and/or a recent heart surgery. Please share your information with the donor evaluator at the time of your next visit.
Here are acceptable guidelines for the following specific conditions:
Hemochromatosis: BloodSource does not accept individuals with a diagnosis of hemochromatosis into our volunteer blood program at this time. Therapeutic phlebotomy may be arranged through your doctor. Please contact our Special Procedures Coordinators at 916.453.3781 for further details.
Hepatitis/Yellow Jaundice: Permanent ineligibility if infected after age ten.
Herpes (any type): Do not donate if you are having any symptoms, such as, open or healing lesions or pain in the affected area.
HLA Antibodies: Antibodies to white blood cells sometimes develop as a result of blood transfusion or due to pregnancy. All women who donate platelets and have a history of pregnancy will be tested for HLA antibodies. If HLA antibodies are detected, you remain eligible to donate much-needed whole blood and source plasma provided you meet eligibility guidelines, but you will be ineligible to donate platelets or transfusable plasma. Female platelet donors who have tested negative for HLA antibodies may be eligible to give transfusable plasma as part of their platelet donation.
Immunization and Vaccinations*: Acceptable if after your vaccination you are afebrile (no temperature) and symptom-free for the following:
Must wait to donate after vaccination for (or injection with) the following:
Leishmaniasis: Leishmaniasis is a parasitic disease, which is spread by the bite of infected sand flies. There are currently no vaccines or drugs to prevent infection. Leishmaniasis can be transmitted through blood transfusion. YOU ARE NOT ELIGIBLE TO DONATE IF:
You will be deferred for 12 months since departure from Iraq.
Malarial Risk Travel*: The U.S. blood supply is kept as safe as possible from infectious diseases, including Malaria, through strict Food and Drug Administration (FDA) blood donor screening guidelines. Malaria is a serious and sometimes fatal disease caused by a parasite that commonly infects certain types of mosquitoes that feed on humans. Because our donor screening process is so well controlled, malaria transmitted through blood transfusion is very rare in the U.S. Blood donations are not tested for malaria. Therefore, we apply temporary deferral periods to at-risk donors to ensure they have not been infected with malaria.
FDA Screening guidelines require:
The CDC has an interactive malarial map application that is particularly useful for obtaining information about malarial transmission in specific parts of the world. Your donor evaluator will be able to determine if your travel was to a malarial-endemic area. The link to the Malarial Map Application is available at www.cdc.gov .
Pregnancy*: Cannot donate during pregnancy. Wait six weeks after normal delivery. For Caesarean births, wait at least six weeks after doctor's release. Nursing mothers may give blood.
Stroke*: You may be eligible to donate one year after a stroke if all serious effects of the stroke have resolved, you have not had a recurrence, and you have no significant physical restrictions. Please share your information with the donor evaluator at the time of your visit.
Tattoos*: Donors with tattoos are eligible to donate blood (except source plasma) provided the tattoo was received at a professional establishment (e.g., tattoo studio, tattoo shop or tattoo parlor) using sterile, single use needles and ink that is not re-used. The professional establishment where the tattoo was received must be in a state that is on the Approved States list, of which California is one.
If you have been deferred for a tattoo in the past year, please call 800.995.4420 prior to your appointment (to save you time!) to have this deferral status changed in your blood donation record as appropriate.
Travel Outside the U.S. or Canada: Travel outside the U.S. or Canada may impact your donation eligibility and/or what blood components you are eligible to donate. In the past three years, if you have been outside the United States or Canada and want to check your eligibility before coming in, please call a BloodSource Nurse of the Day at 916.456.1500 to determine how this travel may impact your eligibility. Many donors are able to continue to donate following travel, so please call today to ensure your eligibility.
When visiting a BloodSource Donor Center or mobile blood drive, it will be helpful to know where you have traveled (exact areas) as well as the length of time you were there.
For whole blood donations, only about one pint is taken, no more. You have about two pints of blood for every 25 pounds of body weight, and your body makes new blood constantly. After giving blood, most people can resume their normal activities.
Schedule an appointment to give blood at one of our convenient BloodSource Donor Centers located throughout Northern and Central California.
Find out what type of donation is most needed at this time, call 866.822.5663.
There are many opportunities to donate blood and help patients in need. Learn about the different donation opportunities including whole blood, platelets and plasma.
Watch more videos on YouTube