Blood Center

Eligibility, Medical History, and Deferral Information

Eligibility

Only 38% of the general population are eligible to donate, but fewer than 10% of those eligible actually donate.

Please use the information on this site as a general guide; an evaluation by a medical professional is the only way to determine eligibility.

On the day of your donation:

Donors must:

Because blood is a living tissue that is transplanted into another human, the U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA), in an attempt to ensure a safe blood supply, has imposed strict controls on who may donate. If you discover that you are not eligible to give blood, you can still save lives by providing blood for research, coordinating a blood drive within your organization, volunteering your time, or contributing financially. However you participate in our programs, you are helping maintain the health of our community. Thank you for your dedication.

After viewing the Medical History Form and the common reasons for deferral below, if you have questions about your eligibility, contact our Resource Nurse at (650) 725-9968.

Medical History

You will be asked to complete a Medical History Questionnaire each time you donate blood. Your honesty in answering these questions is a crucial part of the blood donation process.

Once you have completed the form, a Medical Historian will go over your questions and answers with you. He or she may ask for further information, and you will have the opportunity to ask any questions you may have. The Medical Historian will then determine, based on your answers, if you are eligible to donate blood that day. Here are some reasons why a donor may be permanently deferred:

HIV/AIDS You are a person with symptoms or laboratory evidence of HIV virus.
Cancer You have had Leukemia, Lymphoma, multiple myeloma and all other hematologic malignancies.
Heart Disease You've ever experienced heart failure or coronary artery disease. Other heart conditions may require your doctor's permission.
Hepatitis You have a history of the disease after the age of 10
Organ Failure You have experienced kidney, lung, or liver failure.

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Deferral Information

Some people are very disappointed to find that they are not eligible to give blood. There are several reasons for—and even different types of—deferrals. Depending upon the reason, a deferral may be either temporary or permanent. Please read below for more information about some of the common reasons for deferral: hemoglobin, travel to a Malarial region, travel to a Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease region, HIV Exposure, and medications.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact Stanford Blood Center's resource nurse at (650) 725-9968.

Hemoglobin (temporary deferral, until improved)

During the Medical History part of your donation process, the Historian will take a small blood sample from your finger to test your hemoglobin, or red blood cell level. In order to get an accurate sample of your hemoglobin level, your hands must be warm. Try rubbing your hands together, holding a warm drink, or running warm water over your hands before the finger stick. If your hands are cold, notify a staff member. If your hemoglobin is too low, you will not be able to donate blood that day. Please come back soon!

Click here for information about how to raise your hemoglobin level.

Travel to a Malarial region (one-year temporary deferral)

Because of the risk of Malaria, donors who have traveled to certain countries may be deferred from donating blood for one year. If you have traveled to India, you must wait one year from your return to donate.

Certain parts of Mexico, China, Africa, South and Central America, the Caribbean, and the Philippines are considered "limited risk areas". For the most current information available, see the Centers for Disease Control's (CDC) Malaria Risk Map. (Malaria risk changes over time with rainfall patterns or successes in malaria control efforts, and updates to the CDC's Malaria risk map are being made constantly.)

Residence in a Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease region (lifetime deferral)

Because of the risk of variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (vCJD) (also known as Mad-Cow Disease) and other blood-related illnesses, some donors may be deferred for one year or permanently because of their travel history. For more information about this deferral, please see the FDA Q&A site or the FDA Blood Guidance site about vCJD.

Individuals who have spent three cumulative months or more in the U.K. between 1980 and 1996 are indefinitely deferred. Also, individuals who spent five years or more since 1980 in some European countries became ineligible as well. The FDA is hoping to eliminate about 90% of the theoretical transmission risk of vCJD with these tightened restrictions.

The following individuals are ineligible to donate blood for transfusion to others:

United Kingdom:

England Wales Gibraltar
Northern Ireland Isle of Man Channel Islands
Scotland Falkland Islands

Europe:

Albania Austria Belgium Bosnia-Herzegovina Bulgaria Croatia Czech Republic Denmark Finland France Germany Greece Hungary Republic of Ireland
Italy Liechtenstein
Luxembourg Macedonia Netherlands Norway Poland Portugal Romania Slovak Republic Slovenia
Spain (including: The Canary Islands
Penon de Velez de La Gomera, Penon De
Ahucemas, Islas Chafarinas, Centa and
Melilla)
Sweden
Switzerland
United Kingdom Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (Kosovo, Montenegro
Serbia, Yugoslavia)

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HIV Exposure (lifetime or one-year deferral)

The FDA requires all blood centers to question donors about activities that are associated with an increased risk of exposure to infectious agents. According to statistics from the public health service, men who have sex with men continue to represent a population at increased risk of acquiring HIV infection. Although heterosexual spread of HIV is increasing nationally, in California men who have sex with men continue to account for approximately 2/3 of HIV infections. Men who have had sex with a man are permanently not eligible to donate blood. Women who have had sex with a man who has had sex with a man are not eligible to donate blood for one year. For more information on this deferral, please see our Explaining the MSM Deferral page.

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Medications

Certain medications that are perfectly safe for you to take could be harmful if transfused into another person. If you are currently taking or have ever taken any of the medications listed below, you should let our staff know. The deferral periods for these medications vary; your Medical Historian will discuss your eligibility with you.

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