A person donating blood.
Healthy Living

Mythbusting: Blood Donation Edition

Jan 31 2022

You might think you can’t donate blood because of something you heard, but how do you know if it’s true? Some people who couldn’t give blood in the past may be able to now.

Learn the truth about common blood donation myths and see if you’re eligible to donate blood through the American Red Cross (ARC).

Myth: I don’t need to donate blood because plenty of other people do.

Fact: Only 3 percent of eligible donors donate blood in the U.S. This is why your donation can make all the difference, especially to the person who receives it and their loved ones.

Myth: I’m on medications or recently got a vaccination, so I can’t donate.  

Fact: Most of the time, you can still donate blood even if you’re taking medicine or got a vaccination. Depending on the type of medicine or vaccine, you may have to wait for a period of time before you donate. Check ARC’s medication and vaccination information for details.

Myth: International travel disqualifies you to donate.

Fact: Not all travel automatically means you cannot donate. Depending on where you traveled to, it may not matter, or you may just need to wait a certain period of time. You can call 866-236-3276 to speak to an ARC eligibility specialist or read more about travel criteria on ARC’s website.

Myth: If I get a tattoo, I can’t donate blood.  

Fact: If you have old or new ink, you can still donate. In many states, you can donate blood right after getting a tattoo as long as the tattoo shop meets a few requirements. These include being a state-regulated entity that uses sterile needles and doesn’t reuse ink. Some people may need to wait a short period of time after getting their tattoo.

Learn more about blood donor eligibility

Most people can donate if you meet these three requirements:

  1. You don’t feel sick and are being treated for any chronic medical conditions
  2. You weigh at least 110 pounds
  3. You are at least 17 years old (some states allow you to donate at 16 with permission from a parent)

For more details, visit the ARC’s website to find out if you’re eligible.  

The American Red Cross has declared the worst blood shortage in more than a decade. Every two seconds in the U.S., someone needs a blood donation. You can donate at a local blood drive to support the people in your community. Find an ARC blood drive near you.

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