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Eligibility & Blood Testing on Mundane Donations


These are the blood tests done on blood given at a donation center such as the Red Cross. Please note that the primary emphasis on these tests are to determine whether the donor has an infectious disease that's transmissible via blood transfusion, and what blood type the person is (to avoid blood typing problems later) - not the person's general health status (which is better served by a "CBC w/differential" and a "chem20" or "complete metabolic" and other testing done by your primary physician.)

At a donation center, the amount usually taken is about a pint (approximately 470ml), and can take about 10-20 minutes. It takes 24-48 hours to replace the overall blood volume, but approximately 6 weeks to replace the actual red cells. A unit is roughly 45% red cells, roughly 55% plasma, and a very small proportion of platelets. An average size adult has about 10-12 pints / apx 5 liters, depending on weight.

Losing about 1/5 or more of the normal amount of blood in your body causes hypovolemic/hemorrhagic shock.


  • Are fit, healthy, and not suffering from cold, flu or other illness at time of donation
  • Must weigh at least 110 pounds / 50kg / 7.8st (less than that means increased risk of fainting)
  • Must be at least legal age and under 70-ish (varies with country and/or state/province)
  • Have eaten and had 3-4 glasses of water or juice before donating

  • Must NOT have donated whole blood within the last 6-8 weeks
  • Must NOT have a reason for deferral (some are outlined below; see links for further details)


  • Hepatitis B Surface Antigen (HBsAg)
  • Antibodies to the Hepatitis B Core (Anti-HBc)
  • Antibodies to the Hepatitis C Virus (Anti-HCV)
  • Antibodies to the Human Immunodeficiency Virus, Types 1 and 2 (Anti-HIV-1, -2)
  • Antibodies to Human T-Lymphotropic Virus, Types I and II (Anti-HTLV-I, -II)
  • Syphilis
  • Nucleic Acid Amplification Testing (NAT) for West Nile Virus and/or HIV-1 and HCV
  • Alanine Aminotransferase (ALT) (when raised, indicates possibility of otherwise-undetectable hepatitis)
  • A/B/O blood type + rh factor determination
  • Red cell antibody detection

ADDITIONAL BLOOD TESTS  (on an as-needed or regional basis)

  • Malaria
  • T-Cruzii (Trypanosoma cruzi - "Chagas' Disease")
  • Cytomegalovirus (CMV)
  • Sickle Cell Trait


Prospective blood donors may be unable to donate for reasons that could either compromise their own health or the safety of the donated blood supply. Common reasons why people may be temporarily deferred are listed below. This is not a comprehensive list owing to the many factors that can determine a donor's eligibility - a more comprehensive list may be obtained from your local blood donation agency.

  • Minor illness (donors are required to be healthy at time of donation)
  • Drugs/medications (dependent on the type of drugs/medication or underlying cause requiring medication)
  • Recent dental work (risk of infection/septicemia in the blood)
  • Low Hemoglobin counts (due to anemia; bad idea for people with anemia to have this much blood loss)
  • Recent tattoos/piercings/accupuncture/electrolysis (risk of hepatitis or other infections from the needles)
  • Recent major surgery (deferral time dependent on the type of surgery, recovery period, and reason for surgery)
  • HIV/AIDS high risk activities
  • Diabetes (if you're on insulin or other medication, because it can be dangerous for non-diabetics)
  • Exposure to disease/geographical-based deferrals (such as Malaria)
  • Pregnancy (during, and until 3 months after breastfeeding stops)
  • Recent vaccinations, depending on the vaccination
  • High risk sexual activities
  • Food poisoning (because the bacteria can still be in the blood)
  • Certain diseases (either because they're contagious or the cause and nature of them is uncertain)


See the reference links below for more detailed explanations of the above, and specific disease deferral information.


This site contains articles on various medical topics; however, no warranty whatsoever is made that any of the articles are accurate - and even if a statement made about medical matters is accurate, it may not apply to you or your symptoms. These medical articles are provided on a general informational basis only - nothing on this site should be construed as an attempt to offer or render a medical opinion or otherwise engage in the practice of medicine.

Even though the authors may be capable of doing extensive research, it must be understood that neither SphynxCatVP, nor the rest of the contributors, are doctors, despite the presence of any books of the medical profession in the personal libraries of any of the authors. Any such articles are thusly written, in part or in whole, by nonprofessionals. Consequently, there is absolutely no guarantee that any statement contained or cited in an article touching on medical matters is true, precise, or up-to-date.

At best, you can use the article to strike up a conversation with your doctor or other medical professional ABOUT your symptoms, and share any concerns you may have for them to investigate. The medical information provided by this site is of a general nature and CANNOT legally be considered a substitute for the advice of a medical professional.

AABB - Donor Screening & Deferral
AABB - Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease/vCJD Information
AABB: Testing of Donor Blood for Infectious Diseases

AABB: Transfusion-Transmitted Diseases
Australian Red Cross - FAQ/Eligibility
India's Surma Foundation - Eligibility
Merck Manual Home: Blood Transfusions
New Zealand Blood Service: Common Reasons for Deferral
Red Cross: Safety
Red Cross: Eligibility Guidelines
Red Cross - Eligibility Guidelines
Red Cross @ Franklin County, PA - Eligibility Guidelines
Red Cross @ Savannah, GA - Eligibility Guidelines
Texas A&M / College of Science: Bloodborne Pathogens
New Zealand Blood Service - Blood Donor Eligibility Criteria
UK's National Blood Service - Health Check
UK's National Blood Service - Tests on your blood (PDF)
UK's National Blood Service - Who Can't Donate
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