To be eligible to donate whole blood, platelets or plasma, you must be:
- In good health.
- At least 17 years old — the minimum age varies by state, with some states allowing 16-year-olds to donate with parent permission; there’s no upper age limit.
- At least 110 pounds.
- Able to pass the physical and health history assessments.
Basic Eligibility Guidelines
Age: You must be at least 17 years old to donate to the general blood supply. There is no upper age limit for blood donation as long as you are well with no restrictions or limitations to your activities.
High Blood Pressure: Acceptable as long as your blood pressure is below 180 systolic (first number) and below 100 diastolic (second number) at the time of donation. Medications for high blood pressure do not disqualify you from donating.
Body Piercing: You must not donate if you have had a tongue, nose, belly button or genital piercing in the past 12 months (donors with pierced ears are eligible).
Cold and Flu: Wait if you have a fever or a productive cough (bringing up phlegm). Wait if you do not feel well on the day of donation. Wait until you have completed antibiotic treatment for sinus, throat or lung infection.
Diabetes: Acceptable as long as it is well controlled, whether medication is taken or not.
Diet: A meal is recommended at least four hours prior to donation. Drink plenty of fluids.
Weight: You must weigh at least 110 pounds to be eligible for blood donation for your own safety. Blood volume is in proportion to body weight. Donors who weigh less than 110 pounds may not tolerate the removal of the required volume of blood as well as those who weigh more than 110 pounds. There is no upper weight limit as long as your weight is not higher than the weight limit of the donor bed or lounge you are using. You can discuss any upper weight limitations of beds and lounges with your local health historian.
The eligibility requirements are slightly different for double red cell donation. Check with your local donor center for specifics.
Get plenty of sleep the night before you plan to donate. Eat a healthy meal before your donation. Avoid fatty foods, such as hamburgers, fries or ice cream before donating. Tests for infections done on all donated blood can be affected by fats that appear in your blood for several hours after eating fatty foods. Drink an extra 16 ounces (473 milliliters) of water and other fluids before the donation.
If you are a platelet donor, remember that you must not take aspirin for two days prior to donating. Otherwise, you can take your normal medications as prescribed