Requirements for Donating Blood

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Wondering if you are eligible to donate blood? Read on to find out if you are part of the population who can help save lives as a volunteer blood donor!

Age
Individuals at least 17 years old may be eligible to donate blood. If you are 16 years old, you may only donate with signed parental consent.


Weight
If you are age 19 or older, you must weigh at least 110 pounds to donate blood. If you are between the ages of 16 and 18, you must weigh at least 122 pounds.

Health
You must be in good general health.

ID
You must bring a valid photo ID with you to donate blood.

FDA Policy Changes as of April 2, 2020

FDA recognizes that maintaining adequate levels of our nation’s blood supply is critical.  The COVID-19 pandemic has led to dramatic reductions in the number of donations across the country.  To help, the FDA announced on April 2nd that based on recently completed studies and epidemiologic data, they have concluded that the current policies regarding the eligibility of specific donors can be modified without compromising the safety of the blood supply. 

The policy changes the FDA announced are expected to remain in place after the COVID-19 public health emergency ends.

What is changing?

  • For male donors who have had sex with another man: the agency is changing the recommended deferral period from 12 months to 3 months.
  • For female donors who have had sex with a man who had sex with another man: the agency is changing the recommended deferral period from 12 months to 3 months.
  • For those who have traveled to malaria-endemic areas (and are residents of malaria non-endemic countries): the agency is changing the recommended deferral period from 12 months to 3 months.
  • For those who spent time in certain European countries or on military bases in Europe who were previously considered to have been exposed to a potential risk of transmission of Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease or Variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease, the agency is eliminating the recommended deferrals and is recommending allowing reentry of these donors. 

When is it changing?

The changes are for immediate implementation, and we are working internally to update our donor screening software to accept the changes.  As soon as we have those done, we will let the public know.  We hope to move quickly. 

Can I Donate If…?

Click on the topic that applies to you to find out if you can donate. 

If you have a question about whether or not you can donate that isn't answered here, please call (713) 790-1200 or email us. We will respond to your email within 24 hours, during regular business hours: Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

I have traveled outside the U.S.

This list is NOT a complete list of countries, just the most visited countries. If the country that you have visited is not listed, you may call (713) 791-6612 or (713) 791-6608 or email Medical Services.

LocationComments
Africa

Algeria - No deferral.

Botswana - Gaborone and Francistown – No deferral. All other areas – Not eligible for one year after return.

Kenya - Not eligible for one year after return.

Nigeria - Not eligible for one year after return.

South Africa - Large cities such as Johannesburg, Pretoria, Durban, Port Elizabeth - No deferral. Game parks, provinces of Northern, NE Kwa Zula-Natal, Mpumalanga Provinces - Not eligible for one year after return.

Tanzania - Not eligible for one year after return.

Uganda - Not eligible for one year after return.

Argentina

None

Azerbaijan

None

Belize

None

Caribbean

NEW! The chikungunya virus (CHIKV) has received increasing attention in North America due to the high volume of travel to and from the Caribbean islands. Individuals who travel to this region during the two weeks before donation are asked to call The Blood Center if they develop unexplained post-donation illness with symptoms consistent with acute tropical infections, including fever, joint pain, headache and rash. Donors who have been diagnosed with CHIKV are not eligible for 28 days after recovery.

Bahamas - No deferral.

Dominican Republic - Risk in all areas (including tourist resorts of Puerto Plata and Punta Cana) except no risk in cities of Santo Domingo and Santiago only. Travel duration greater than 24 hours to areas other than Santo Domingo or Santiago – 1 year deferral after return.  No deferral if donor did not travel outside of the cities of Santo Domingo or Santiago for more than 24 hours.

Honduras - Cities of San Pedro Sula and Tegucigalpa or Island of Roatan for less than 24 hours - No deferral. Other areas or Island of Roatan for more than 24 hours - Not eligible for one year after return. 

Cruises visiting a port located in a malaria-risk area for less than 24 hours - No deferral.

China

Large cities and typical tourist areas including Yangtze River cruise - No deferral. 

Travel to rural, non-tourist areas - Not eligible for one year after return.

Colombia

Bogotá,Cartagena and Medellin – No deferral. All other areas – Not eligible for one year after return.

Costa Rica

No deferral 

Ecuador

Large cities in central highlands (Quito, Ambato, Guayaquil, Cuenca) and Galapagos Islands are acceptable - No deferral.

El Salvador

No deferral

Europe

No deferral unless stayed for more than 6 months associated with the military between 1980 and 1996 or stayed for more than 5 years from 1980 to the present.

United Kingdom - No deferral unless stayed for more than 3 months between 1980 and 1996 or more than 5 years since 1980 to present.

French Guiana

Cayenne City – No deferral. All other areas – Not eligible for one year after return.

Guatemala

Large cities including Antigua, Quiche, Quetzaltenango, Chimaltango, Huehuetenago, San Juan Sacatepequez, Guatemala City and around Lake Atitlan - No deferral.

Risk in rural areas - Not eligible for 12 months after return.

India

Not eligible for 12 months after return.

Indonesia

Large cities of Jakarta and Ubud, and resorts of Bali, Java, Gili Islands and the Thousand Islands (Pulau Seribu) or less than 24 hours in rural area - No deferral.

Travel to rural areas for more than 24 hours – Not eligible for 12 months after return.

Mexico

Acapulco - No deferral.

Cabo San Lucas - No deferral.

Calica - No deferral.

Cancun - No deferral.

Cozumel - No deferral.

Isla Mujeres - No deferral.

Oaxaca - No deferral.

Playa del Carmen - No deferral.

Progresso - No deferral.

Puerto Vallarta - No deferral.

Nicaragua

Not eligible for one year after return.

Panama

Provinces of Cocle, Chiriqui, Herrera, Los Santos, San Miguelito, Panama City and Canal Zone areas are acceptable.

Travel to other areas for more than 24 hours - Not eligible for one year after return.

Peru

Ica, Lima, Arequipa, Puno, Tacna Moquegua, Chincha Alta, Pisco, Nazca, Arequipa, Moquegua, Puno, Tacna and highland tourist areas of Cuzco and Machu Picchu, coastal areas south of Lima and Lake Titicaca, or travel outside of these areas for less than 24 hours – No deferral.

Other areas – Not eligible for one year after return.

Philippines

Large cities - No deferral. Rural areas for more than 24 hours - Not eligible for one year after return.

Saudi Arabia

No deferral.

South Korea

All large cities SOUTH of Seoul such as Pusan, Inche’eon, Chonju, Kunsan, Taegu, Teajon, Kwangju, Oktori, No deferral.

Areas north of Seoul and along the DMZ/border of North Korea – Not eligible for 2 years after return

Singapore

No deferral.

Venezuela

Not eligible for one year after return.

Vietnam

Large cities of Da Nang, Haiphong, Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Nha Trang, Qui Nhon, the Mekong Delta and the Red River Delta – No deferral.

All other areas for more than 24 hours – Not eligible for one year after return.

I have a tattoo or body piercing.

Tattoos (single-use dye/equipment), acupuncture (licensed practitioner), ear piercings (sterile gun) and all other body part piercings applied in state-licensed* facility – you must wait one week from date of application.

Any of the above procedures applied by self, an unlicensed individual or a facility that is not state-licensed – you must wait one year from date of application.

*Must be a licensed facility in one of the following states:

Alabama · Hawaii · Maine · Nebraska · Oklahoma · Texas

Alaska · Illinois · Michigan · New Hampshire · Oregon · Vermont

California · Indiana · Minnesota · New Jersey · Rhode Island · Virginia

Colorado · Kansas · Mississippi · New Mexico · South Carolina · Washington

Delaware · Kentucky · Missouri · North Dakota · South Dakota · West Virginia

Florida · Louisiana · Montana · Ohio · Tennessee · Wisconsin

I am taking medication.

View our list of medication eligiblity guidelines here.

Haga clic aquí para ver una lista de aplazamiento de medicamentos.

I recently had a shot, vaccination or immunization.

Find the shot/vaccination you are looking for and read the comments for that shot/vaccination.

Shot/VaccinationComments
Allergy shot You can donate
Botox injection You must wait two days before you can donate
Chickenpox (varicella-zoster) vaccination You must wait four weeks before you can donate
Flu shot (including H1N1) or FluMist You can donate
Gamma Globulin – HBIG (exposure to hepatitis) You must wait one year before you can donate
Gardasil (human papillomavirus) You can donate
Havrix (hepatitis A vaccine) You can donate
Heptavax (hepatitis B vaccine) You must wait four weeks before you can donate
Meningitis You can donate
Novocaine You can donate
Polio You can donate
Pneumonia vaccination You can donate
Rabies (animal bite) You can donate
Routine TB test You can donate
Shingles vaccination You must wait four weeks before you can donate
Steroid injection (joint) You can donate if given for pain or inflammation. You must wait one month if given for infection.
Steroid injection (intramuscular) You must wait three days after the shot before you can donate
TB test for exposure You must wait three days or until the test has been read to donate
Tetanus Booster You can donate

 

Avodart (dutasteride) was approved on October 10, 2002, and became available for prescription in December of 2002. Like Proscar (finasteride), it is for the treatment of symptomatic benign prostate hyperplasia (BPH) in men. However, it is considerably more potent. You must wait 6 months after your last dose before you can donate.

I recently had surgery or a skin graft.

Find the surgery or the skin graft you are looking for and read the comments for that operation.

Surgery or Skin GraftComments
Major surgery performed in hospital/surgery clinic (no blood used) You can donate if you have resumed normal activities
Major surgery performed in hospital/surgery clinic - blood transfusion received You must wait one year after surgery to donate - even if autologous blood was used
Minor surgery performed in MD office You must wait one week to donate
Lasik/cataract surgery You must wait one week to donate
Skin Grafts - Autologous You must wait six weeks after the graft to donate
Skin Graft - Allogeneic You must wait one year after the graft to donate
Bone Graft-Allogenic (purified cadaver bone used for dental, lumbar, etc., graft) or Autologous You must wait six weeks after the graft to donate
BIO-OSS dental graft You must wait six weeks after the graft to donate
OASIS non-cellular graft You must wait six weeks after the graft to donate
Heart valve graft (porcine) You must wait six months after the graft to donate
Transplant - Solid Organ from Animal source You cannot donate

I have a common ailment or illness.

Find the common ailment or illness you are looking for and read the comments for that condition.

Ailment or Illness

Comments

Diabetes - feeling well and healthy

You can donate

Diabetes - symptomatic

You must wait 30 days after symptoms disappear before you can donate

Diarrhea

You must wait two days after symptoms disappear before you can donate.

Eczema - no infected lesions

You can donate

Headache - Severe Migraine

You can donate one day after your headache disappears

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (having abdominal discomfort)

You must wait two days to donate after symptoms disappear

Lupus and Myasthenia Gravis 

You can donate if controlled and 6 months without hospitalization. Only applicable to non-source plasma donors. 

Mononucleosis

You must wait six weeks after symptoms disappear before you can donate

Psoriasis

You can donate

Psoriasis - taking Acitretin, Soritane or Tegison

You cannot donate

Pneumonia

You must wait 30 days after you get well before you can donate

Poison Ivy (no lesions in venipuncture area)

You can donate

Ringworm (not in venipuncture area)

You can donate

Stroke related to heart or embolism

You can donate if it is more than six months since the stroke and your condition is stable.

Stroke related to head injury

You can donate if it is more than six months since the stroke and your condition is stable.

Thyroid - Hypo/Hyper - controlled with medication

You can donate

Ulcerative Colitis - no medication taken

You can donate

Ulcerative Colitis - taking Asacol

You can donate

UTI (Urinary Tract Infection)

You must wait two days after treatment is finished to donate

I have had cancer.

There is a 1-year waiting period after completing treatment for melanoma and internal cancers, except lymphoma and leukemia, which are permanent deferrals. Minor external skin cancers such as basal or squamous cell you are eligible to donate 2 weeks after the cancer is removed.

I have a circulation or heart-related disorder.

Find the condition you are looking for and read the comments for that condition.

Circulation or Heart Related DisorderComments
High blood pressure (controlled) You can donate
All heart conditions/surgery/angioplasty and heart attacks that have associated chest pain Please contact Medical Services
(713) 791-6612
Mitral Valve Prolapse (MVP) - (Stable - no chest pain in past six months) You can donate
Mitral Valve Prolapse (MVP) - (Unstable or chest pains within the past six months) Must have a physician approval letter to donate
Arrhythmia - no pain/no medication or controlled by medication You can donate

I don't have sickle cell anemia, but I carry the trait.

You can donate blood if you have sickle cell trait. However, all blood is currently filtered to help prevent reactions in the recipient. Blood with sickle cell trait does not filter well. We encourage donors with sickle cell trait to donate plasma or platelet apheresis. These two types do not get filtered.

I have a sexually transmitted disease.

If you have genital herpes, chlamydia or venereal warts (human papillomavirus), but no active lesions, you can donate. If you have syphilis or gonorrhea you must wait one year after you complete your treatments and have negative test results.

I’ve made contact with someone who has hepatitis.

If you are hospital personnel or have been exposed via casual contact, you can donate. If your contact has come from a member of your household (sexual contact as well), and that person is asymptomatic and not undergoing treatment, you can donate. If that person is undergoing treatment or is symptomatic, you must wait one year before you can donate blood.

 

Blood Center News
Donors recovered from COVID-19 are helping others

The response from people who have overcome COVID-19 to Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center’s call for convalescent plasma has been amazing. We’ve seen a number of donors step up to help patients fighting the disease in local hospitals, and it’s beautiful to see our community come together for such an important reason.  

How to prepare for your next blood donation

Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center is open by appointment only right now, and we want to make sure you’re in tip-top shape to give when you come in to see us. Good nutrition and a healthy lifestyle can help you save lives, so take advantage of these tips before your next opportunity to give blood.  

‘Superhero medicine’ and blood donors help save Owen’s life

Sarah was celebrating her son’s fourth birthday in 2018 when she had to excuse herself. While she had the video camera pointed at her young son’s face, Sarah couldn’t help thinking this birthday might be his last. 

Owen was battling brain cancer for the second time. 

Two years later, birthdays have become extra special at the Langston household. 

Give Texas

This year on Feb. 26, we honor Dr. Reiss and her legacy through the first-ever Texas Bone Marrow, Blood, and Organ Donation Registry Day, established through the work of State Rep. Gene Wu and passed into law last year.

Blood drives and homemade cookies save lives

The Blood Center depends on the passion of thousands of organizations across the Gulf Coast region to help us save lives. We need 800–1,000 donations a day to serve all of the patients in our community, and we couldn’t do it without businesses, high schools, colleges, churches and a slew of other organizations that work with us.

Give the gift of platelets

It’s the most wonderful time of the year … to donate platelets! We have an urgent need for blood and platelet donations during the holidays, and blood donation is a great way for blood donors to spread Christmas cheer. 

What type of blood donation works for you?

Whole blood, platelets, red blood cells or plasma — you’ve got options when it comes to saving lives, and each donation has its benefits.

Lone Star Circle of Life

Cole was one of several organ, stem cell and blood donors and recipients honored in the 2019 Lone Star Circle of Life Bike Tour. Fewer than 12 cyclists are chosen to participate in the biennial event, which lasts about a week. The tour stretched from Tyler to Waco to College Station to Katy to Victoria before ending in Corpus Christi. 

League of Heroes: Heal for Real appeals to gamers

I think it’s safe to say nobody was more psyched than Lance when The Blood Center partnered with Team Liquid for the Heal for Real campaign. Team Liquid is an international esports organization with more a fanbase of more than 7 million people. The campaign is aimed at the gamer community because healers can be a big part of winning attacks.

Elephants need blood, too

At The Blood Center, we're all about saving lives — human or otherwise.  So it was a big deal to hear that we had a small part in helping save the life of a baby elephant named Joy. Joy is an Asian elephant, a species classified as endangered with only an estimated 40,000 left in the world.

What if this is the one that helps cure cancer?

Today I want to introduce you to Anne, a component technician responsible for separating blood into its different components.

 

Be safe, healthy and well

Our blood donors are the best. That’s why we do everything we can to make sure they are safe and comfortable every time they come in to save lives. To truly have the best experience, though, donors should be prepared.

Are You All In?

Some people get starstruck when meeting famous actors, while others want athletes to sign their memorabilia. My coworkers and I get excited when we get to meet real-life superheroes — people give their time because they believe they must help others if given the opportunity.

5 reasons blood donors are the best

The generous spirit of our donors amazes me. There are countless ways to give back to your community, especially in this technological age. Google “ways to give back in the Houston area” and you’ll find long lists of the needs in society. It’s, quite frankly, overwhelming. But you, you’ve waded through all of that information to find the most selfless way to support the people around you.

Why do you give blood?

Twelve students at the Thurgood Marshal School of Law already had signed up to give blood just one hour into their blood drive. It was amazing to see the heart of this high-achieving group taking time out of their studies with just weeks left in the semester to think about others.

Becoming Wonder Woman

I am an unashamed fan of Wonder Woman. Family members reminisced about how I used to wrap a towel around my neck and run around the house singing the “Woman Woman” theme song. (No, that wasn’t a typo. My ability to get song lyrics wrong was apparent even at the young ages of 3 and 4.)

You are powerful

Do you have any idea of the unbelievable power you have?

I was excited last summer to meet Shelley and her daughter, Courtney. The two were full of laughter and fun when Shelley came into our office for a photo shoot. Shelley is one of our long-time dedicated donors. She’s got that kind of giving spirit, and we were thrilled to capture a few photos of her.

Netflix and save lives like a hero: Top 5 movie recommendations

I don’t know about you, but I’m ready to help save more lives than ever in 2019. But those automated donations can take anywhere from an hour to an hour and a half. Mine, in particular, lean more toward the hour-and-a-half territory. What’s a girl to do? Watch Netflix movies and donate. And because I’m so thankful for your willingness to help us save lives, here are my top five recommendations for January.

Have you given a Holiday Hug?

One of the best parts of the Holiday Hugs tradition is reading the notes our donors write for patients in the hospital over the holidays. It’s not an easy task as each patient has his or her own individual circumstance, so we’re restricted in which cards we tie to each bear. Still, many of our donors are well up to the task.

Every day, someone’s life is being saved.

By Tammie Riley 

I learned something the other day. Every day, someone’s life is being saved. I know that seems obvious, but let that sink in. What may be a normal Thursday for most could be something completely different for someone else. And that’s exactly what happened to donor Gary Gilson. Aug. 16 was one of the most important moments in Gary’s life. Not only did he save lives that day, but someone else saved the life of his loved one, as well.

Hospital tour highlights need

A 3-year-old girl lies in a hospital bed in the middle of the room with monitors attached to her bare chest. She’s awake, but she doesn’t lift her head as we walk into the room. Still, she follows us with her eyes. The only sound we hear from her is a small cough while a nurse comes in to check her stats.

 

The Blood Center teams up with Sickle Cell Association of Houston

Blood transfusion is one treatment used to combat complications from sickle cell disease, a form of anemia most likely to affect people of African descent. Prince and her now 27-year-old daughter, Quannecia McCruse, founded the Sickle Cell Association of Houston years ago to educate and provide resources to the community.

 

Drive and save lives

Penny, a local teacher with some free time over the summer, has helped us kick off our new Volunteer Driver program. Are you interested in joining us in our mission to save lives? Call us at (713) 791-6262 or email volunteering@giveblood.org.

Overcoming fear: Donating blood for the first time

I’m a scaredy-cat. I readily admit it. I hate needles. That’s always been my excuse for why I don’t volunteer for anything with a needle. Flu shot? No way. Vaccines? I still remember the sheer terror I felt from them growing up. 

We are always #HoustonStrong

We never know when the next tragedy will strike, but we have to be ready when it does come. 

Meet Eden

CYPRESS – There is nothing more American than baseball and saving lives. Everyone who participates in The Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center’s Home Run for Life competition will get a chance at both through June 30.

 

SuperMax is the hero Houston needs!

Max was born with a genetic disorder (neurofibromatosis type 1) that can cause tumors to grow on his nerve endings, and SuperMax has been his alter ego ever since. 

Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center mourns Barbara Bush

Barbara Bush helped save lives in our community, and we celebrate her lifetime of accomplishments. The former First Lady set the bar high in her commitment to helping others.

 

Dr. Charles Drew: A Blood Banking Pioneer

Here at The Blood Center, we pride ourselves on being an organization of diversity. We work together to save and sustain lives, and we each bring a unique perspective when it comes to fulfilling our mission.

Tying the knot and saving lives

Hurricane Harvey destroyed homes, cars and many other things, but one thing it couldn’t destroy is the compassion for others in newlywed couple Gilbert and Stefanie Cruz. Gilbert and Stefanie were set to get married just a few days after Harvey passed, but due the storm’s aftermath they had to alter all of their plans on a moment’s notice.

 

Blood on ambulances helps EMS agencies save more lives

Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center has partnered with two local agencies providing emergency medical services to help save more lives when time is of the essence, now administering whole blood to patients on the ground.

Donor coaches hit the road sporting new look, features

In the last two years, five of The Blood Center's donor coaches have been refurbished. Find out why this is such an important process.

Circle of Life Bike Tour celebrates life

The Lone Star Circle of Life bike tour visits Texas cities to raise awareness of the need for blood, marrow, organ and tissue donations to honor those impacted by these donation types. This year’s eight-day, 600-mile tour included stops in Houston and College Station.

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Blood Center Resources

Our mission is to partner with the community to save and sustain lives by providing a safe supply of blood, blood components and related services.

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Houston, TX 77054

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