Blood

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Need Help or want to give your feedback?

Whether you’re having trouble with your account, or would like to make a suggestion, Canadian Blood Services offers you quick and convenient options to troubleshoot or get in touch. Contact us via live chat, consult our FAQ, send an email feedback@blood.ca, or give us a call at 1 888 2 DONATE (1-888-236-6283).

The ABCs of Eligibility

You may not be eligible to donate if your own health or the safety of the blood supply would be at risk by having you do so. Below are some common reasons people are deemed ineligible to donate. If you have any questions or are not sure about your eligibility, please contact one of our trained health professionals at 1 888 2 DONATE (1-888-236-6283).

Reasons A Donor May Not Be Eligible:

Any evidence of intoxication or inability to give an informed consent will prevent you from donating. You can donate once sober for 12 hours.

Acupuncture performed with disposable or single-use needles does not affect your ability to donate. If you are not sure what kinds of needles were used, you have to wait six months after treatment before you can donate.

To become a blood donor in Canada you must be:

If you have allergies, you can donate as long as you feel well.

If you have an acute infection should not donate blood. When taking medication for an infection, you may be temporarily unable to donate. If you are currently taking medication please call to talk to one of our trained health professionals at 1 888 2 DONATE (1 888 236-6283).

You can donate as long as you are not having difficulty breathing at the time of donation and otherwise feel well.

Women on oral contraceptives or using other forms of birth control can donate.

We’ll take your blood pressure at the time of donation. You cannot donate if your systolic pressure is below 90 mm Hg or above 180 mm Hg, or if your diastolic pressure is below 50 mm Hg or above 100 mm Hg. (“Hg” is a measurement of pressure in terms of millimetres of mercury.)

This one can be complicated—so call us! Typically, you must wait for 12 months after receiving a blood transfusion from another person before you can donate blood.

Donors must wait six months after having a body piercing due to the increased risk of Hepatitis B and other infections associated with tattoos and piercings. Other similar procedures that may fall under this category include acupuncture and electrolysis.

Your eligibility to donate depends on the type of cancer you had and when it was treated.

Skin cancer:

  • squamous cell or basal cell - You can donate after treatment
  • Melanoma - you are not eligible to donate

For most types of cancer, you can donate 5 years after your treatment is complete and you are cancer-free. These include:

  • Breast cancer
  • Prostate cancer
  • Colon cancer
  • Thyroid cancer
  • Uterine cancer

Blood cancers such as leukemia and lymphoma - you are not eligible to donate

If you are not sure about your eligibility, please call to speak with one of our trained professionals at 1 888 2 DONATE.

Canadian Blood Services defers donors with medical histories of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome — even if their condition is not active — because the potential effects on blood recipients are unknown.

You can donate if you are well, participating in normal daily activities, not on antibiotics and not coughing up phlegm. If you’re unsure, give us a call.

Anyone who:

  • Spent a cumulative total of three months or more in the United Kingdom (UK) between January 1980 and December 31, 1996
  • Spent a cumulative total of three months or more in France between January 1980 and December 31, 1996
  • Spent a cumulative total of five years or more in Western Europe outside the U.K. or France from January 1, 1980 through December 31, 2007. Western European countries affected are Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Switzerland, Austria, Belgium, Spain, Republic of Ireland, Portugal, Denmark, Luxembourg, and Liechtenstein.
  • Spent a cumulative total of six months or more in Saudi Arabia from January 1, 1980 through December 31, 1996

is not eligible to donate. For more information see Travel.

You are not eligible to donate.

If you have had a cleaning or a filling, you can donate the day after treatment. If you have had an extraction, root canal or dental surgery you are eligible 72 hours after treatment, as long as you have fully recovered.

If you have diabetes that is being treated by diet, medication, or insulin, you may be eligible to donate blood. Every donor is different, and the use of certain medications or other underlying conditions could be cause for deferral. Give us a call and we’ll let you know if you can donate.

For your safety and the safety of patients who receive blood, donations are not taken from people with some medical conditions. Call us to discuss your current health and we can determine your eligibility.

To be eligible to donate, your last:

  • Whole blood donation must have been 56 days ago for males, 84 days for females
  • Plasma donation must have been seven days ago
  • Platelet donation must have been 14 days ago

Anyone who has been told by public health authorities that they have been exposed to a patient who may have Ebola virus disease is advised not to donate blood for 56 days following their last contact with the infected person. This is considerably longer than the incubation period for the virus.

West African countries with confirmed cases of Ebola are also malaria-endemic countries. Travelers who have visited malaria-endemic countries are deferred from giving blood for one year. See the travel section of our site to determine if you can donate—or call us if you’d like to speak to someone.

The initial tests we use to screen blood are highly sensitive to guarantee the safety of recipients. That means they are designed to detect donations with even the smallest levels of infection. But because they are so sensitive, sometimes they react with proteins in blood and produce a "reactive" (i.e., positive) result. We then check the result using a more specific test of different sensitivity: if that test does not produce the same positive result, we consider the first result to have been "false reactive" or "false positive."

In the past, a false reactive result has meant a donor was indefinitely deferred from giving blood. Recently, however, Health Canada approved a reentry program that allows eligible donors to be re-tested after a six-month waiting period. For more information about the donor reentry program see the False Reactive Test Results page.

If you have received a false reactive result in the past and would like to set an appointment to be re-tested, call 1 888 2 DONATE (1-888-236-6283) and speak to one of our registered nurses.

You can donate!

Some people are deferred from giving blood because of where they have lived or visited. For instance, in June 2015 new questions were introduced to identify donors at greater risk of acquiring very rare strains of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. Most reported cases of these emerging strains originate from a region in Africa, specifically Cameroon and Togo, so our questions ask about living in those countries or having a sexual partner who has lived in that region. People who have lived in Togo or Cameroon since 1977 are deferred for one year from the date of departure from the affected country. Sexual partners of these people require a one year deferral from the date of last sexual contact.

Donor screening procedures are exclusionary, but the exclusion is based on risk factors. It has nothing to do with race or ethnicity.

Other deferrals include those for malaria and vCJD. Because the risk of infection diminishes over time, people from a country where malaria is prevalent are deferred for three years after departure from the country. Those who have visited a malaria risk area are deferred for one year after departure.

Because of the theoretical risk of variant Creutzfeldt Jakob Disease (vcJD), Health Canada has concluded that deferring donors who had spent a cumulative total of three months or more in the United Kingdom (U.K.) since 1980, or if they have spent a cumulative total of three months or more in France since 1980, or if they have spent a cumulative total of five years or more in Western Europe outside of the U.K. or France since 1980 through December 31, 2007, balances the safety of Canada's blood supply with the need for donors.

You must be in good general heath to donate blood. This means feeling well and able to perform normal activities. The day of your donation, you should have had something to eat and gotten an adequate sleep the night before.

If you have suffered a Heart Attack or have Coronary Heart Disease, you are not eligible to donate.

With some heart conditions, if you are asymptomatic (i.e., are experiencing no symptoms), you may be eligible to donate.

Please call us at 1 888 2 DONATE to discuss your condition.

Hereditary hemochromatosis is a common genetic disorder. Individuals with hemochromatosis absorb too much iron from their diet and may accumulate extra iron in vital organs.

  • If you are otherwise eligible to donate blood, you can donate whole blood every 56 days for males and every 84 days for females.
  • In between your Canadian Blood Services donations, there should be at least one week between an outpatient phlebotomy and your next donation.
  • If you have late complications from hemochromatosis such as liver cirrhosis or heart failure, you are not eligible to donate

If you’re looking for more information about hemochromatosis, click here or visit the Canadian Hemochromatosis Society website.

We test your hemoglobin level in the clinic before each donation. For females, your hemoglobin must be at least 125 g/L (12.5 g/dL) in order for you to be able to give blood. For males, as of March 5, 2017, your hemoglobin must be at least 130 g/L (13.0 g/dL) in order for you to be able to give blood.

For more information, see All About Hemoglobin.

If you ever tested positive for hepatitis B or hepatitis C, at any age, you are not eligible to donate, even if you were never sick or jaundiced from the infection.

You are acceptable, once jaundice is resolved if the jaundice or hepatitis was caused by something other than a viral infection, for example: medications, Gilbert's disease, bile duct obstruction, alcohol, gallstones or trauma to the liver.

You are acceptable with a history of jaundice or hepatitis before your 11th birthday unless the cause was hepatitis B or C.

If you live with or have had sexual contact with a person who has or had hepatitis, please call to speak with one of our trained professionals at 1 888 2 DONATE.

You should not give blood if you have AIDS or have ever had a positive HIV test, or if you have done something that puts you at risk for becoming infected with HIV.

HIV Geographical Risks: If you have lived in Africa since 1977, specifically Togo or Cameroon, you must wait one year from the date of departure from the affected country, to donate blood. Anyone who has had sex with someone who lived there is also not permitted to donate blood for one year after last sexual contact. This is based on possible exposure to newly emerging strains of HIV.

HIV high-risk activities: a number of activities put people at high risk of acquiring HIV/AIDS. These can indefinitely defer a person from giving blood—for example, someone who has taken money or drugs for sex since 1977 cannot give blood; neither can someone who has used intravenous street drugs. Men who have had sex with another man more than one year ago, and who meet other screening criteria, now may be eligible to give blood. Learn more about our policy on HIV/AIDS risk-related activities.

A diet rich in iron is advised for all donors. A decrease in iron stores (ferritin) may occur in frequent donors.

If you donate regularly…

  • Talk to your pharmacist or doctor about taking iron supplements to prevent low iron stores.
  • Ask your doctor to check your iron (ferritin).

If you are taking…

  • a multivitamin with iron – you can donate
  • an iron tablet to prevent low iron – you can donate
  • an iron tablet to treat low iron stores (low ferritin)
    • You can donate 3 months after you start taking the iron tablets if your doctor tells you your iron levels are normal
  • an iron tablet to treat iron deficiency anemia (low hemoglobin and ferritin)
    • You can donate 6 months after you start taking the iron tablets if your doctor tells you your iron levels are normal

For more information, see What You Need to Know About Iron.

If diagnosed with Lupus, you are no longer eligible to donate.

If you spend time in a region affected by malaria you will be temporarily ineligible to donate blood. Depending on how long you were in the affected region, the waiting period to donate again can be one to three years. Popular tourist destinations like the Dominican Republic and Mexico have some areas where malaria exposure is a risk. See the travel section of our site to determine if you can donate—or call us if you’d like to speak to someone.

Most prescribed medications do not prevent you from donating. However, the underlying condition that requires a particular medication may affect your eligibility to donate. Some medications are cause for deferral. You may not donate while taking the medication and possibly for a period of time afterwards.

If you are currently taking medication and want to know if you can give blood, click here for a list of the top 40 acceptable and unacceptable medications. If your medication is not on either list, call to talk to one of our trained health professionals at 1 888 2 DONATE (1 888 236 6283).

If you take any medications, we recommend bringing a list of current medications to your donations. This will assist staff in accurately assessing your eligibility during screening.

Eligible to donate.

You should be feeling well when you give blood. If you have a cold, flu or allergy symptoms, we may ask you to wait to donate until you’ve fully recovered—for your sake, and for the health of any potential blood recipient.

You are ineligible to donate.

Wait 12 months after receiving any type of tissue transplant from another person. If you ever received a dura mater (brain covering) transplant, you are not eligible to donate. This requirement is related to concerns about the brain disease, Creutzfeld-Jacob Disease (CJD).

If you received a tissue graft from one area of your body to another, you are eligible once fully recovered.

Donors are temporarily ineligible to donate blood while pregnant. There is also a six-month waiting period after giving birth before the donor may be eligible to donate blood.

Women who are breastfeeding are not eligible to donate blood during the first six months after giving birth.

There is a six-week temporary ineligibility period for women who miscarry or terminate a pregnancy.

You are acceptable if it has been more than 12 months since you completed treatment for syphilis or gonorrhea.

Once Chlamydia is resolved and genital herpes lesions are healed you are eligible to donate.

Venereal warts (human papilloma virus) are not a cause for deferral if you are feeling healthy and well and meet all other eligibility requirements.

Most skin conditions are acceptable as long as the skin over the vein to be used to collect blood is not affected. If the skin disease has become infected, wait until the infection has cleared before donating. Call us if you have a skin condition and are wondering if you can donate.

Taking antibiotics to control acne does not disqualify you from donating.

Once stitches removed, you are not on antibiotics and free from infection, you are eligible to donate.

Generally, the surgery itself is not a concern for donating, but the underlying condition that precipitated the surgery.

If the underlying condition is acceptable to donate, you will need to be fully recovered from the procedure and feeling well before donating.

If you received any blood products during or after surgery, wait 12 months before donating.

Eligibility is on a case by case basis. If you have recently had surgery, please call 1 888 2 DONATE (1-888-236-6283) regarding your eligibility.

If you’re planning a trip outside of Canada or have just returned, make sure you’re informed about your destination and any issues that may affect your ability to donate. Here is a listing of countries that are affected.

You must wait six months after getting a tattoo before giving blood due to the increased risk of Hepatitis C and other infections associated with tattoos and piercings.

If you have recently been vaccinated, you may be temporarily deferred from giving blood. You can view the full list of deferral periods for various vaccinations here.

To donate blood, you must weigh at least 50 kg (110 lb). If you are between the ages of 17 and 23, check your eligibility.

Donors who have travelled to locations outside of Canada, the continental U.S. and Europe have a waiting period of 21 days after their return home before donating blood. Visit the Travel page for more information.