Family members, friends and the community are encouraged to donate whole blood and platelets for MD Anderson Cancer Center patients. Many potential blood donors believe that they cannot donate blood due to medical or other reasons. Whether you have heard or read information about donation restrictions or been turned down in the past, please do not self-defer. You are welcome to review our Blood Donation FAQs or contact us to answer any questions you may have. Thank you for wanting to donate with MD Anderson Blood Bank.
Some cancers and cancer treatments harm blood cells. If red blood cells drop, a patient feels weak, tired and short of breath. If platelets or plasma proteins decrease, a patient may bleed.
If you are in good health and you meet all requirements, you may donate:
- Whole blood every 56 days (8 weeks)
- Platelets every 48 hours, up to 24 times in one year
- Platelets and red blood cells together every 56 days (8 weeks)
- Double red blood cells every 112 days (16 weeks)
There are almost no risks to you. Except for a slight discomfort at the beginning of the collection, most donors report no problems. You cannot become infected with any new disease by donating.
People who received a tattoo or piercing at a state-licensed and regulated facility are now eligible to donate anytime. People who received a tattoo at a non-regulated facility must wait 12 months before they can donate.
If your diabetes is being treated and is under control, you are most likely able to donate blood. You should let your doctor know that you plan to donate.
Most medications, including those treating high blood pressure and cholesterol, are acceptable. Call us in advance at 713-792-7777 if you have any questions. It is always a good idea to bring a list of your medications when you come to donate. Certain aspirin and herbal products deactivate platelets.
To donate platelets, you need to wait 48 hours after taking aspirin or aspirin-containing products such as, ibuprofen, Motrin, Advil, Nuprin, Aleve, Excedrin and herbal supplements containing, ginseng, gingko biloba, garlique or ginger. Energy drinks that contain any of the previous products will also defer you for 48 hours for platelet donations. These include Monster, NOS, Rockstar, Full Throttle, AMP, Sobe, TAB Energy.
We welcome blood donations from donors 17 years old and older. You are never too old to donate. If you are in good health, and qualify for other eligibility guidelines, you can donate blood regardless of age. A number of regular donors over the age of 80 continue to help our cancer patients.
- Whole blood: Collection takes only about 7 to 12 minutes, the complete process takes about 20 to 40 minutes
- Platelets and platelets plus red blood cells: Collection takes 1 to 1 1/2 hours, the complete process takes between 1 1/2 and 2 hours
- Double red cells: Collection taking 25 to 35 minutes, the complete process takes between 35 and 45 minutes
Red blood cells are good for 42 days. Platelets are good for two days. Plasma is frozen and can be used for one year.
No, however, we can mail you your blood type at your request after your donation.
Every donation undergoes a battery of tests (including infectious disease testing) each time you donate. All tests must be negative in order to be used by our patients. Blood is separated into components: red blood cells, platelets and plasma.
MD Anderson does not take direct donations intended for a specific patient. We also discourage self-donations.
The MD Anderson Blood Bank, like all blood centers in the United States, gets frequent updates on areas of concern from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. If you were wondering whether your travel history might make you ineligible, please call us at 713-792-7777.