Thursday, October 15, 2015

[ Know your Blood. ]

Although all blood is made of the same basic elements, not all blood is alike. In fact, there are eight different common blood types, which are determined by the presence or absence of certain antigens – substances that can trigger an immune response if they are foreign to the body. Since some antigens can trigger a patient's immune system to attack the transfused blood, safe blood transfusions depend on careful blood typing and cross-matching.

There are four major blood groups determined by the presence or absence of two antigens – A and B – on the surface of red blood cells:
  • Group A – has only the A antigen on red cells (and B antibody in the plasma)
  • Group B – has only the B antigen on red cells (and A antibody in the plasma)
  • Group AB – has both A and B antigens on red cells (but neither A nor B antibody in the plasma)
  • Group O – has neither A nor B antigens on red cells (but both A and B antibody are in the plasma)
There are very specific ways in which blood types must be matched for a safe transfusion. See the chart below: 
Blood type chart
Group OO Blood Typediagram linking blood typesO Blood Type
A can donate red blood cells to A's and AB'sA Blood TypeA Blood Type
B can donate red blood cells to B's and AB'sB Blood TypeB Blood Type
Group AB can donate to other AB's but can receive from all othersAB Blood TypeAB Blood Type
In addition to the A and B antigens, there is a third antigen called the Rh factor, which can be either present (+) or absent ( – ). In general, Rh negative blood is given to Rh-negative patients, and Rh positive blood or Rh negative blood may be given to Rh positive patients.
  • The universal red cell donor has Type O negative blood type.
  • The universal plasma donor has Type AB blood type.

O positive is the most common blood type. Not all ethnic groups have the same mix of these blood types. Hispanic people, for example, have a relatively high number of O’s, while Asian people have a relatively high number of B’s. The mix of the different blood types in the U.S. population is:
African American
O +
O -
A +
A -
B +
B -
AB +
AB -
Some patients require a closer blood match than that provided by the ABO positive/negative blood typing. For example, sometimes if the donor and recipient are from the same ethnic background the chance of a reaction can be reduced. That’s why an African-American blood donation may be the best hope for the needs of patients with sickle cell disease, 98 percent of whom are of African-American descent.
How Is My Blood Type Determined?
 It’s inherited. Like eye color, blood type is passed genetically from your parents. Whether your blood group is type A, B, AB or O is based on the blood types of your mother and father.
This chart shows the potential blood types you may inherit. 
* Note: If you have questions about paternity testing or about blood group inheritance, your primary care physician should be able to provide you with an appropriate referral. Testing difficulties can cause exceptions to the above patterns. ABO blood typing is not sufficient to prove or disprove paternity or maternity.
Eligibility Criteria: Alphabetical.

Select the title or plus symbol below to view content. You may also view the Eligibility Criteria by topic.



You must be at least 17 years old to donate to the general blood supply, or 16 years old with parental/guardian consent, if allowed by state law. Learn more about the reasons for a lower age limit. There is no upper age limit for blood donation as long as you are well with no restrictions or limitations to yourYou must be at least 17 years old to donate to the general blood supply, or 16 years old with parental/guardian consent, if allowed by state law. Learn more about the reasons for a lower age limit. There is no upper age limit for blood donation as long as you are well with no restrictions or limitations to your activities. activities.

Allergy, Stuffy Nose, Itchy Eyes, Dry Cough.


A donor with an acute infection should not donate. The reason for antibiotic use must be evaluated to determine if the donor has a bacterial infection that could be transmissible by blood.
Acceptable after finishing oral antibiotics for an infection (bacterial or viral). May have taken last pill on the date of donation. Antibiotic by injection for an infection acceptable 10 days after last injection. Acceptable if you are taking antibiotics to prevent an infection, for example, following dental procedures or for acne. Some conditions which require antibiotics to prevent an infection must still be evaluated at the time of donation by the responsible medical director. If you have a temperature above 99.5 F, you may not donate.



Birth Control

Bleeding Condition.

Blood Pressure, High

Acceptable as long as your blood pressure is below 180 systolic (first number) and below 100 diastolic (second number) at the time of donation. Medications for high blood pressure do not disqualify you from donating.

Blood Pressure, Low

Acceptable as long as you feel well when you come to donate, and your blood pressure is at least 80/50 (systolic/diastolic).

Blood Transfusion


Eligibility depends on the type of cancer and treatment history. If you had leukemia or lymphoma, including Hodgkin’s Disease and other cancers of the blood, you are not eligible to donate. Other types of cancer are acceptable if the cancer has been treated successfully and it has been more than 12 months since treatment was completed and there has been no cancer recurrence in this time. Lower risk in-situ cancers including squamous or basal cell cancers of the skin that have been completely removed do not require a 12 month waiting period.

Precancerous conditions of the uterine cervix do not disqualify you from donation if the abnormality has been treated successfully. You should discuss your particular situation with the health historian at the time of donation.

Unable to Give Blood?
You can help people facing emergencies by making a financial donation to support the Red Cross’s greatest needs. Your gift enables the Red Cross to ensure an ongoing blood supply, provide humanitarian support to families in need and prepare communities by teaching lifesaving skills. Make a financial gift today.

Chronic IllnessesMost chronic illnesses are acceptable as long as you feel well, the condition is under control, and you meet all other eligibility requirements.

Cold, Flu

Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD)

Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease, Variant (vCJD); "Mad Cow Disease"

Dental Procedures and Oral Surgery


Diabetics who are well controlled on insulin or oral medications are eligible to donate.

Donation Intervals

Wait at least 8 weeks between whole blood (standard) donations.
Wait at least 7 days between platelet (pheresis) donations.
Wait at least 16 weeks between double red cell (automated) donations.

Donor Deferral for Men Who Have Had Sex With Men (MSM)

Heart Disease

Heart Murmur, Heart Valve Disorder

Hemochromatosis (Hereditary)

Hemoglobin, Hematocrit, Blood Count

Hepatitis, Jaundice

Hepatitis Exposure


Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT)

Hypertension, High Blood Pressure

Immunization, Vaccination



Intravenous Drug Use



Organ/Tissue Transplants

Piercing (ears, body), Electrolysis

Pregnancy, Nursing

Sexually Transmitted Disease

Sickle Cell

Acceptable if you have sickle cell trait. Those with sickle cell disease are not eligible to donate.

Skin Disease, Rash, Acne


It is not necessarily surgery but the underlying condition that precipitated the surgery that requires evaluation before donation.  Evaluation is on a case by case basis.  You should discuss your particular situation with the health historian at the time of donation.


Wait 12 months after being treated for syphilis or gonorrhea.


Travel Outside of U.S., Immigration


Venereal Diseases


Below is additional reference material if you did not find what you were looking for above.
Last updated: 2/25/2013
By: Yvette Marie Miller, MD., Executive Medical Officer
By: Kathleen M. Grima, MD., Executive Medical Officer
By: M.A.P., RN, BSN

Note to users: Eligibility guidelines may have changed since this information was last updated. For current information, please contact the American Red Cross blood region nearest you.
In-Depth Discussion of Age and Blood Donation
Those younger than age 17 are almost always legal minors (not yet of the age of majority) who cannot give consent by themselves to donate blood. (Each state determines its own age of majority, which can be different for different activities.)

Persons under the age of 17 may, however, donate blood for their own use, in advance of scheduled surgery or in situations where their blood has special medical value for a particular patient such as a family member.
In-Depth Discussion of Variant Creutzfeld-Jacob Disease and Blood Donation
In some parts of the world, cattle can get an infectious, fatal brain disease called Mad Cow Disease. In these same locations, humans have started to get a new disease called variant Creutzfeld-Jacob Disease (vCJD) which is also a fatal brain disease. Scientists believe that vCJD is Mad Cow Disease that has somehow transferred to humans, possibly through the food chain.

There is now evidence from a small number of case reports involving patients and laboratory animal studies that vCJD can be transmitted through transfusion. There is no test for vCJD in humans that could be used to screen blood donors and to protect the blood supply. This means that blood programs must take special precautions to keep vCJD out of the blood supply by avoiding collections from those who have been where this disease is found.

At this time, the American Red Cross donor eligibility rules related to vCJD are as follows:

You are not eligible to donate if:

From January 1, 1980, through December 31, 1996, you spent (visited or lived) a cumulative time of 3 months or more, in the United Kingdom (UK), or
From January 1, 1980, to present, you had a blood transfusion in any country(ies) in the (UK) or France. The UK includes any of the countries listed below.
  • Channel Islands
  • England
  • Falkland Islands
  • Gibraltar
  • Isle of Man
  • Northern Ireland
  • Scotland
  • Wales
You were a member of the of the U.S. military, a civilian military employee, or a dependent of a member of the U.S. military who spent a total time of 6 months on or associated with a military base in any of the following areas during the specified time frames
  • From 1980 through 1990 - Belgium, the Netherlands (Holland), or Germany
  • From 1980 through 1996 - Spain, Portugal, Turkey, Italy or Greece.
You spent (visited or lived) a cumulative time of 5 years or more from January 1, 1980, to present, in any combination of country(ies) in Europe, including
  • in the UK from 1980 through 1996 as listed above
  • on or associated with military bases as described above, and
  • in other countries in Europe as listed below:
    • Albania
    • Austria
    • Belgium
    • Bosnia/Herzegovina
    • Bulgaria
    • Croatia
    • Czech Republic
    • Denmark
    • Finland
    • France
    • Germany
    • Greece
    • Hungary
    • Ireland (Republic of)
    • Italy
    • Kosovo (Federal Republic of Yugoslavia)
    • Liechtenstein
    • Luxembourg
    • Macedonia
    • Montenegro (Federal Republic of Yugoslavia)
    • Netherlands (Holland)
    • Norway
    • Poland
    • Portugal
    • Romania
    • Serbia (Federal Republic of Yugoslavia)
    • Slovak Republic (Slovakia)
    • Slovenia
    • Spain
    • Sweden
    • Switzerland
    • Turkey
    • Yugoslavia (Federal Republic includes Kosovo, Montenegro, and Serbia)
In-Depth Discussion of HIV Group O and Blood Donation
Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is the virus that causes AIDS. The virus can be transmitted through blood transfusion, so all donor programs are required to question donors about possible HIV exposure, and to test donated blood for this virus.

There is a rare form of HIV called Type O that is found in western Africa. The tests for HIV detect the Type O strain.

In-Depth Discussion of Creutzfeld-Jacob Disease (CJD) and Blood Donation
CJD is a rare, progressive and fatal brain disorder that occurs in all parts of the world and has been known about for decades. CJD is different from variant CJD, the new disease in humans thought to be associated with Mad Cow disease in the United Kingdom and elsewhere.

CJD appears to be an infectious disease. It has been transmitted from infected humans to patients through the transplantation of the covering of the brain (dura mater), use of contaminated brain electrodes, and injection of growth hormones derived from human pituitary glands. Rarely, CJD is associated with an hereditary predisposition; that is, it occurs in biologic or “blood” relatives ( persons in the same genetic family).

There is no evidence that CJD can be transmitted from donors to patients through blood transfusions. However, nobody knows for certain that this cannot happen. There is no test for CJD that could be used to screen blood donors. This means that blood programs must take special precautions to keep CJD out of the blood supply by not taking blood donations from those who might have acquired this infection.

You are considered to be at higher risk of carrying CJD if you
  • Received a dura mater (brain covering) graft;
  • Received human pituitary-derived growth hormone injections; or
  • Have a biologic relative who has been diagnosed with CJD.
  • If any of these descriptions apply to you, you should not donate blood until more is known about CJD and the risk to the blood supply.
In-Depth Discussion of Hepatitis and Blood Donation
"Hepatitis" means inflammation of the liver. Hepatitis can be caused by many things including gallstones, medications, drinking alcohol, obesity and liver infections.

Hepatitis caused by Hepatitis B virus and Hepatitis C virus can be easily transmitted from donors to patients through transfusion. It is possible for a donor to carry a hepatitis virus even though he has never been sick with an inflamed liver, and he feels entirely well at the time of donation.

Hepatitis B and hepatitis C are transmitted between people through sexual contact and blood-to-blood contact, such as occurs when needles are shared during IV drug use. Hepatitis viruses can also be transmitted from mothers to their unborn babies. However, many people who have hepatitis virus infection cannot determine how they became infected. There is a vaccine for the hepatitis B virus.

All blood donations are tested for hepatitis B and hepatitis C with several different tests. But because these tests are not perfect, it is still important for people who may be infected with hepatitis viruses to not donate blood. In some cases, all that is required is a waiting period after some particular event, such as an exposure to a patient with hepatitis, to be sure the person was not infected. In other cases, the likelihood of hepatitis is high enough that the person is not eligible to donate regardless of how much time has gone by.
In-Depth Discussion of Malaria and Blood Donation
Malaria is a blood infection caused by a parasite that can be transmitted from a donor to a patient through transfusion. It is possible to have a new infection with malaria but have no symptoms, even though the parasite is present in your blood. It is also possible to feel well, but have a very mild case of malaria, especially if you have lived for extended periods of time in parts of the world where malaria is found.

The Centers for Disease Control and Protection keep track of the locations with malaria for international travelers from the United States, and this information is available on their web site. You can see if malaria is found in the location you traveled to or lived in by searching for it on the CDC Web-based Malaria Risk

Map Application at the following link

Blood donations are not tested for malaria. Therefore, it is important that people who may have malaria or been exposed to malaria because of living in, or traveling to, a country where malaria is present not be allowed to donate blood until enough time has passed to be certain that they are not infected with malaria. This is done by having a waiting period for those who lived in, move from, or traveled to, the locations with malaria.

If you have traveled outside of the United States, your travel destinations will be reviewed to see if you were in a malaria-risk area. It would be most helpful if you came prepared to report the country and city or destinations to which you traveled, as well as the travel dates.


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