Who Can’t Donate Blood?

Dr. Sharon Orrange
Dr. Orrange is an Associate Professor of Clinical Medicine in the Division of Geriatric, Hospitalist and General Internal Medicine at the Keck School of Medicine of USC.
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The goal of transfusion medicine is to reduce the risk of transfusion-transmitted infection to as low a level as possible. The FDA made news last week by recommending a change in the policy for gay men and donating blood. So what items in your medical history may get you denied from donating blood in the United States? And what laboratory testing is done on donated blood prior to transfusion?

What will your blood be tested for?

You will be denied if your blood tests positive for: HIV-1, HIV-2, human T-lymphotropic virus (HTLV)-I, HTLV-II, hepatitis C virus, hepatitis B virus, West Nile Virus (WNV), and T. pallidum (syphilis). Blood donation is actually a quick and easy way to get tested for all of these things.

You will be denied from donating blood if:

You will also be denied if you say yes to these questions:

You will be turned away for a year if you have had sex with:

Ok, what else will make it so you can’t be a blood donor?

Growth Hormone, Mad Cow and the U.K.

Lots of folks are denied around these reasons. If you received human pituitary derived growth hormone (because of the risk of Mad Cow Disease) you will be denied. Also because of the fear of Mad Cow Disease, you will be denied if:

For cancer survivors, if you have a history of a solid organ tumor in the last 1 – 5 years, you can’t donate blood.

What medications will prevent you from donating blood?


If you are 16 or younger you can’t donate. Sixteen year olds can donate with written permission from their parents if they are at least 110 pounds. Interestingly, there is no upper age limit for donating.

Dr O.

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