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You may have a lot of questions about what it takes to save lives with Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center, and we’ve done our best to answer some of the questions we get most here.  

You can also stop by one of our Neighborhood Donor Centers or a mobile drive. Our phlebotomists are always ready and willing to help.  

General Health Questions Common Health Topics for Men Common Health Topics for Women
Questions about Blood Center Operations   Questions about the COVID-19 Vaccine

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Who can donate blood? 

Anyone who is age 17 or older may be eligible to donate blood. Individuals who are 16 years old may be eligible to donate with parental consent.  

You must bring a valid picture ID prior to donation. 

  • Donors age 19 and up must weigh at least 110 pounds. 
  • Donors 16 - 18:
    Donation Type Age Minimum Weight
    Whole Blood 16 120
      17-18 115 M / 120 F
    Automated 17-18 115 M / 120 F
    *16-year-old donors must have parental consent. 
  • Potential donors must be in general good health, without any cold or flu symptoms. 

How often can I donate blood?

Donating blood requires a waiting period between donations. If you donate:

  • Whole blood- you may donate 56 days after your last whole blood donation.
  • Double Red Cells- you may donate 112 days after your last double red cell donation. Double red cell donors must meet certain weight, height, and hemoglobin (iron) requirements.
  • Platelets- you may donate 7 days after your last platelet donation, with a maximum of 24 donations per year.
  • Plasma- you may donate 28 days after your last plasma donation.
  • 16-18-year-old males — 56 or 112 days, depending on donation given
  • 16-18-year-old females — 112 days

Deferrals 

What does it mean to be deferred? A donor is deferred when they don’t meet one or more eligibility criteria. It’s how long they must wait before being considered for donation again. For example, when you get a tattoo, you’ll be deferred for a week. That means you can donate blood one week after it was done 

Or you may receive an indefinite deferral, where you aren't able to donate blood unless federal regulations change in the future. We understand this isn’t what you want to hear, but you can still help us save lives. Follow us on social media and emphasize the importance of donating blood and/or volunteer to help us recruit donors.  

Note: One of the most common reasons a donor is deferred is because of low iron. Learn more here 

Frequently Asked Questions:

General Health Questions

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. 

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

U.S. Food and Drug Administration officials announced changes in April 2020 that affect donor eligibility. One of the changes is the deferral period for people who have traveled to malaria-endemic areas has been shortened from a year to three months.  Click here to see a list of malaria-affected travel locations. 

LOCATION 

COMMENTS 

Africa 

Algeria: You can donate 

Botswana (Gaborone): You can donate 

Botswana (all other areas for more than 24 hours): You can donate three months after you return 

Kenya: You can donate three months after you return 

Nigeria: You can donate three months after you return 

South Africa - If you traveled to large cities such as Johannesburg, Pretoria, Durban, Port Elizabeth: You can donate 

South Africa - If you traveled outside of the large cities such as Cape Town, Durban, East London, Johannesburg, Port Elizabeth, Mossel Bay, Middelburg, Pretoria, Kimberley Bloemfontein, Welkom, Klerksdorp, and Queenstown: You can donate three months after you return.

TanzaniaYou can donate three months after you return 

Uganda: You can donate three months after you return 

Argentina 

You can donate 

Azerbaijan 

You can donate 

Belize 

You can donate 

Caribbean 

Individuals who travel to this region during the two weeks before donation are asked to call Gulf Coast Regional 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 chikungunya virus (CHIKV) are not eligible for 28 days after recovery. 

Bahamas: You can donate 

Dominican Republic (Santo Domingo): You can donate 

Dominican Republic (All other areas for more than 24 hours)You can donate three months after you return 

Honduras (San Pedro Sula and Tegucigalpa): You can donate 

Honduras (All other areas or Island of Roatan for more than 24 hours): You can donate three months after you return 

Cruises visiting a port located in a malaria-risk area for less than 24 hours: You can donate 

Colombia 

Bogotá, Cartagena and Medellin: You can donate 

All other areas for more than 24 hours: You can donate three months after you return 

Costa Rica 

You can donate 

Ecuador 

Large cities in central highlands (Quito, Ambato, Guayaquil, Cuenca) and Galapagos Islands: You can donate 

El Salvador 

You can donate 

Europe 

Indefinite deferral if you traveled or lived in the United Kingdom, for three months, or Ireland and France for 5 years or more, between 1980 and 1996.

You can donate if you have traveled or lived for a total of five years or more in any other European country from 1980 to the present.

You can donate if you were associated with the military and stationed on a military base in Europe between 1980 and 1996 (except United Kingdom bases for 3 or more months between 1980-1996).

French Guiana 

Cayenne City: You can donate

All other areas: You can donate three months after you return.

Guatemala 

Large cities including Antigua, Guatemala City, and around Lake Atitlan: You can donate

India 

You can donate three months after you return 

Indonesia 

Large cities of Jakarta and Ubud, and resorts of Bali, Java, Gili Islands and the Thousand Islands (Pulau Seribu): You can donate 

Travel to rural areas for more than 24 hours: You can donate three months after you return 

Mexico 

Acapulco: You can donate 

Calica: You can donate 

Cancun: You can donate 

Cozumel: You can donate 

Isla Mujeres: You can donate  

Oaxaca: You can donate 

Playa del Carmen: You can donate 

Progreso: You can donate 

Puerto Vallarta: You can donate 

Nicaragua 

 Managua, Leon, Chinandega, Esteli, Masaya and Granada: You can donate 

All other areas for more than 24 hours: You can donate three months after you return 

Panama 

Provinces of Cocle, Chiriqui, Herrera, Los Santos, Panama Oeste and the cities of Panama City, David, Santiago and Balboa: You can donate 

All other areas for more than 24 hours: You can donate three months after you return 

Peru 

Lima, Arequipa, Ica, Moquegua, Nazca, Puno and Tacna; the highland tourist areas of Cusco, Machu Picchu and Lake Titicaca or along the Pacific Coast: You can donate 

All other areas for more than 24 hours: You can donate three months after you return 

Philippines 

Large cities, such as Manila: You can donate 

Rural areas for more than 24 hours: You can donate three months after you return 

Saudi Arabia 

Jeddah, Mecca, Medina, Riyadh and Ta’if: You can donate 

All other areas for more than 24 hours: You can donate three months after you return 

South Korea 

Seoul, Pusan, Inch'eon, Chonju, Kunsan, Taegu, Teajon, Kwangju, OktoriTeojon and other cities SOUTH of Seoul: You can donate 

Areas north of Seoul and along the DMZ/border of North Korea: You can donate two years after you return 

Singapore 

You can donate 

Venezuela 

You can donate three months after you return 

Vietnam 

Da Nang, Haiphong, Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Nha Trang, Qui Nhon, the Mekong Delta and the Red River Delta: You can donate 

All other areas for more than 24 hours: You can donate three months after you return 

 

You can donate one week after getting tattoos (single-use dye/equipment), acupuncture (licensed practitioner), ear piercings (sterile gun) and all other body part piercings applied in a state-licensed* facility. 

You can donate after three months if any of the above procedures were applied by yourself, an unlicensed individual or a facility that is not state-licensed. 

*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 

Consult this list for any medications you are currently taking, and read the comments for that medication. Do not stop taking medication prescribed by your physician in order to donate blood.  

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

 

Medications

Comments 

Accutane, Amnesteem, Absorica, Claravis, Myorsian, Sotret, Zenatane (isoretinoin)

Cannot donate or must wait one month from last dose

Anxiety medication

You can donate

Antibiotics

You can donate two days after your last dose

Antibiotics for acne or preventative for urinary track infection/gum disease

You can donate

Anticonvulsant

You can donate if no seizures for 6 months

Antidepressants

You can donate

Analgesics - Aspirin, Pain Relievers

If medication does not contain aspirin you may donate. If the medication contains aspirin, you can donate whole blood or plasma; wait three days after last dose to donate platelets.

Antacids - (i.e. Tums, Prilosec)

You can donate

Asthma medication (no attack requiring ER visit in past 30 days)

You can donate

Anticoagulants or "blood thinners" (usually to prevent blood clots in the legs and lungs and to prevent strokes)

Arixtra (fondaparinux) 2 days 
Eliquis (apixaben) 2 days
Fragmin (dalteparin) 2 days
Lovenox (enoxaparin) 2 days
Pradaxa (dabigatran) 2 days
Savaysa (edoxaban) 2 days
Xarelto (rivaroxaban) 2 days 
Coumadin, Warfilone, Jantoven (warfarin) 7 days
Heparin, low molecular weight heparin 7 days 

 

Anti-Fungal for localized skin/nails/vagina

You can donate

Anti-Histamine (no or mild symptoms)

You can donate

Anti-platelet agents (usually taken to prevent stroke or heart attack)

Can donate non-platelet donations

Feldene (piroxicam)  2 days 
Effient (prasugrel)  3 days 
Brilinta (ticagrelor) 
7 days 
Plavix (clopidogrel)  14 days 
Ticlid (ticlopidine) 14 days 
Zontivity (vorapaxar)

1 month 

Aubagio (teriflunomide) for relapsing multiple sclerosis

24 months

Basal cell skin cancer as Erivedge (vismodegib), Odomzo (sonidegib)

24 months from the last dose 

Birth control pills

You can donate

CellCept (mycophenolate mofetil) - Immunosuppressant 

6 weeks 

Cholesterol medication

You can donate

Decongestant (no symptoms)

You can donate

Diet pill

You can donate

Diuretic

You can donate unless taking it for Congestive Heart Failure, then Indefinite Deferral

Experimental Medication or Unlicensed (Experimental) Vaccine 

12 months or as indicated by the Medical Director

Female hormones

You can donate

Finasteride (Proscar/Propecia)

Cannot donate for one month from last dose

Growth hormones from human pituitary glands

You cannot donate

Gardasil (Human Papilloma Virus)

You can donate

Hepatitis B Immune Globulin

12 months

Hepatitis B or C 

Cannot donate at any time 

Hepatitis A

You can donate

Insulin (U.S. licensed)

You can donate

Insulin (beef/bovine) manufactured in the United Kingdom

Cannot donate at any time

Isotretinoin (Accutane, Amnesteem, Claravis or Sotret)

Cannot donate or must wait one month from last dose

PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis for HIV) - Truvada, Descovy, Tivicay, Isentress (tenofovir, emtricitabine dolutegravir, raltegravir)

3 months - as of July 9, 2020

HIV treatment is also known as antiretroviral therapy (ART)

Cannot donate at any time

Propecia (finasteride)

Cannot donate or must wait one month from last dose

Prostate symptoms

Proscar (finasteride)
Cannot donate or must wait one month from last dose
Dutasteride (Avodart) Cannot donate or must wait six months from last dose
Jalyn Cannot donate or must wait six months from last dose

 

Psoriasis

Soriatane (acitretin) 36 months 
Tegison (etretinate) Cannot donate at any time

Rheumatoid arthritis

Arava (leflunomide) 24 months 
Rinvoq (upadacitinib) 1 month as of July 9, 2020

Sleeping pill

You can donate

Steroids

Oral Steroid You can donate 
Topical Steroid  You can donate 

 

Thalomid (thalidomide) for multiple myeloma

1 month 

Thyroid medication

You can donate

Tranquilizers

You can donate

Vitamins/ Herbal Supplements

You can donate

If you have recently received a shot, vaccination, or other immunization, please consult the following list to determine if you can donate.

SHOT/VACCINATION 

COMMENTS 

Allergy shot 

You can donate 

Botox injection 

You can donate two days after your injection 

Chickenpox (varicella-zoster) vaccination 

You can donate four weeks after your vaccination 

COVID-19 vaccine 

You can donate blood. There are several vaccines being used in clinical trials and some of these vaccines are available for general use. Read more. 

Flu shot (including H1N1) or FluMist 

You can donate 

Gamma Globulin – HBIG (exposure to hepatitis) 

You can donate one year after your injection 

Gardasil (human papillomavirus) 

You can donate 

Havrix (hepatitis A vaccine) 

You can donate four weeks after your vaccination 

Heptavax (hepatitis B vaccine) 

You can donate four weeks after your vaccination 

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 

Zostavax: You can donate four weeks after your donation  

Shingrix: You can donate. 

Steroid injection (joint) 

You can donate if given for pain or inflammation. There is no deferral for steroid injections in the knee. You can donate after one month if given for infection.

Steroid injection (intramuscular) 

You can donate three days after the shot

TB test for exposure 

You can donate after three days or until the test has been read 

Tetanus Booster 

You can donate 

Avodart (dutasteride) was approved on October 10, 2002, and became available for prescription in December 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.

If you have recently had a surgery or received a skin graft, please consult the following list to determine if you can donate. 

Major surgery performed in a 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 can donate 3 months after a transfusion was received, even if autologous blood was used 

BIO-OSS dental graft  You can donate after six weeks 
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, but we welcome you to volunteer

Please consult the following list to determine if you can donate.

AILMENT OR ILLNESS 

COMMENTS 

Diabetesfeeling well and healthy 

You can donate 

Diabetes—symptomatic

You can donate 30 days after your symptoms disappear

Diarrhea 

You can donate two days after your symptoms are gone 

Eczemano infected lesions 

You can donate 

Headache - Severe Migraine 

You can donate one day after your headache disappears 

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (having abdominal discomfort) 

You can donate two days after symptoms disappear 

Psoriasis 

You can donate 

Psoriasistaking Acitretin, SoriataneStelara or Tegison 

You cannot donate 

Pneumonia 

You can donate 30 days after you recover 

Poison Ivy (no lesions in venipuncture area) 

You can donate 

Ringworm (not in venipuncture area) 

You can donate 

Stroke related to heart, embolism and head

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

Thyroid - Hypo/Hyper - controlled with medication 

You can donate 

Ulcerative Colitisno medication taken 

You can donate 

Ulcerative Colitistaking Asacol 

You can donate 

UTI (Urinary Tract Infection) 

You can donate two days after treatment is finished  

Epilepsy 

Can donate if donor had no seizures in the past six months

Consult the list below to determine if you can donate.  

CIRCULATION OR HEART RELATED DISORDER 

COMMENTS 

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 with no chest pain in past six months 

You can donate 

Mitral Valve Prolapse (MVP)Unstable or chest pains within the past six months

Cannot donate

Arrhythmia—No pain/no medication or controlled by medication 

You can donate 

You can donate one year after completing treatment for melanoma and internal cancers, except lymphoma and leukemia, which are permanent deferrals.

For minor external skin cancers, such as basal or squamous cell, you can donate two weeks after the cancer is removed. 

You can donate blood if you carry the 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 through apheresis. These two types do not get filtered. 

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.

Common Health Topics for Men

You can donate three months after your last sexual contact with another male.

You can donate one month after your last dose.

If your PSA is elevated due to benign prostate hyperplasia, you may donate today, unless you are taking Avodart (dutasteride) or Proscar (finasteride). If your PSA is elevated and you are taking Proscar, you may donate one month after your last dose. If you don’t know why your PSA is elevated, please contact our Medical Services Department at (713) 791-6612.

Common Health Topics for Women

You can donate six weeks after giving birth.

You can donate six weeks after the procedure.

You can donate six weeks after the miscarriage.

You can donate.

You can donate.

You can donate.

You can donate in 12 weeks.

You can donate three months after your last sexual contact with another male.

You can donate three months after your last sexual contact with another male.

Questions about Blood Center Operations

Yes, Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center is a registered nonprofit 501c3 organization. Our goal is to save lives, not to make a profit. This means that any net revenue over expenses is immediately put back into the organization, for example, to purchase new software, upgrade equipment and to continue making the blood supply as safe as possible. You can view our financial statements on Guidestar.

There is no fee for the blood itself, because it is freely donated. However, Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center does charge service fees to the hospitals and other health care providers we serve to recoup the cost of safely collecting, processing and testing each donation. For example:

  • The cost of hiring qualified staff and providing ongoing training.
  • The cost of equipment, like blood bags, needles, gloves, electricity and donor beds, etc.
  • The cost of supplies to test for 10 different infectious diseases (HIV, hepatitis, West Nile, etc.).
  • The cost of driving more than 1 million miles every year to convenient blood drives throughout our region and to deliver blood to hospitals—plus the maintenance of our fleet to ensure safe driving! 

We charge hospitals service fees to recoup the cost of safely collecting, processing and testing each donation. Each hospital may then choose to bill the patient for these service fees, plus the costs associated with safely storing the blood, administering the transfusion or other associated costs, determined by the hospital.

Our mission is to partner with the community to provide a safe supply of blood, biotherapies and related services. Some of these related services include: 

  • Participating in clinical trials that align closely with our areas of expertise to help advance medical knowledge. Most clinical trials use leftover sample test tubes or units that cannot be used for transfusion and some require consent for donor participation.
  • Performing advanced compatibility testing to crossmatch units for patients through our Consultation and Reference Laboratory.
  • Providing “recovered plasma” for plasma-derived medications. Plasma that comes from a whole blood donation is called “recovered plasma.” Some of this is used for transfusion, but because the other components of whole blood (red blood cells and platelets) are used more frequently than plasma, plasma that would otherwise expire is used to make life-saving medications.

These related services not only allow us to help more patients in more ways, but they provide revenue that helps us continue to carry out our mission of providing blood and blood products to save lives. 

Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center is committed to serving local hospitals first, then helping others as the blood supply allows. On many occasions, The Blood Center has been called upon for help in response to natural disasters, accidents and more. We have been able to send blood to these other areas because local donors made an adequate supply available to do so. Additionally, we are a member of Blood Centers of America, an organization that can help support these needs through the resources of nearly 50 independent blood center members.

Questions about the COVID-19 Vaccine

Yes. There are several vaccines being used in clinical trials and some of these vaccines may be approved for general use very soon.

Examples include Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna, Janssen/Johnson&Johnson, AstraZeneca, Sanofi, Novavax. Donation is safe if you have been given any of these vaccines. If you are participating in a clinical trial, and the protocol asks you not to donate blood for a period of time, you should follow those instructions. 

No, our antibody test is not likely to be positive following the vaccine.

Our screening test is designed to detect a variety of antibody that forms when you have actually been ill with the coronavirus.

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*Not finding what you're looking for? Email Medical Services or fill out this form for further assistance. Your email will receive a response within 24 hours during regular business hours. Or give us a call at (713) 791-6608.

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