Who can donate blood?
Family members, friends and the community are encouraged to donate whole blood and platelets for MD Anderson Cancer Center patients. Our patients require approximately 200 units of red blood cells and 600 units of platelets every day. 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 considering donating to MD Anderson's Blood Bank.
- Please provide a personal photo ID (state issued driver's license or ID, passport, military ID, work ID, school ID, green card or work visa)
- Age: At least 17 years, and there is no upper age limit
- Weight: Minimum of 110 pounds
- Be hydrated prior to donating
- Eat a sensible meal within four hours prior to donation
- Be in good general health at the time of donation
Any history of cancer, except basal cell carcinoma of the skin or carcinoma in situ of the cervix.
From 1980 through 1996
If you spent time that accumulates (adds up) to 3 months or more in the United Kingdom (U.K.), including England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, the Isle of Man, the Channel Islands, Gibraltar or the Falkland Islands
From 1980 to the present
If you spent time that accumulates to 5 years or more in Europe (including the time spent in the U.K. 1980-1996) Albania, Austria, Belgium, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France including its overseas departments (Guadeloupe, French Guiana, Martinique, Mayotte, Reunion), Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal including the Azores, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain including the Canary Islands and Spanish North African territories, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, Yugoslavia
From 1980 through 1996
If you were a member of the U.S. military, a civilian military employee, or a dependent of a member of the U.S. military and you were associated with a military base in any of the following countries:
- For 6 months or more from 1980 to 1990 in Germany, the United Kingdom, Belgium or the Netherlands
- For 6 months or more from 1980 to 1996 in Greece, Italy, Portugal, Spain or Turkey
Check to see if recent travel may have affected your ability to donate blood.
The following medications apply to blood and platelet donations
- Permanent deferral:
- Etretinate (eg, Tegison) – usually given for severe psoriasis
- Bovine Insulin (Beef Insulin, Insulin from cows) manufacture in UK – used to treat diabetes
- Growth Hormone from Human Pituitary Glands – used to treat children for failure to grow
- 3 years after last dose:
- Acitretin (eg, Soriatane) – usually given for severe psoriasis
- 2 years after last dose:
- Teriflunomide (eg, Aubagio) – usually given for relapsing multiple sclerosis
- Vismodegib (eg, Erivedge) – usually given for basal cell skin cancer treatment
- Sonidegib (eg, Odomzo) - usually given for basal cell skin cancer treatment
- Leflunomide (eg, Arava) – usually given for rheumatoid arthritis
- 12 month deferral:
- Hepatitis B Immune Globulin – given following exposure to Hepatitis B
- Unlicensed Vaccine – usually associated with a research protocol
- 6 months after last dose:
- Dutasteride (eg, Avodart, Jalyn) – usually given for prostate gland enlargement
- 6 weeks after last dose:
- Mycophenolate mofetil (eg, Cellcept) - immunosuppressant
- 1 month after last dose:
- Finasteride (eg, Proscar, Propecia) – usually given for male pattern baldness
- Isotretinoin (eg, Absorica, Accutane, Amnesteem, Claravis, Myorisan, Sotret, Zenatane) – usually given for acne treatment
- Thalidomide (eg, Thalomid) – usually given for multiple myeloma
- 7 days after last dose:
- Heparin and derivatives – given to prevent blood clots and strokes
- Warfarin (eg, Coumadin, Warfilone, Jantoven) – given to prevent blood clots and strokes
- 2 days after last dose:
- Apixaban (eg, Eliquis) - given to prevent blood clots and strokes
- Dabigatran (eg, Pradaxa) - given to prevent blood clots and strokes
- Dalteparin (eg, Fragmin) - given to prevent blood clots and strokes
- Edoxaban (eg, Savaysa) - given to prevent blood clots and strokes
- Enoxaparin (eg, Lovenox) - given to prevent blood clots and strokes
- Rivaroxaban (eg, Xarelto) - given to prevent blood clots and strokes
- Fondaparinux (eg, Arixtra) - given to prevent blood clots and strokes
The following drugs apply to platelet donations only
- 1 month after last dose:
- Vorapaxar (eg, Zontivity) - given to prevent stroke or heart attack
- 14 days after last dose:
- Clopidogrel (eg, Plavix) – given to prevent stroke or heart attack
- Ticlopidine (eg, Ticlid) – given to prevent stroke or heart attack
- 7 days after last dose:
- Ticagrelor (eg, Brilinta) - given to prevent stroke or heart attack
- 3 full days (>72 hours) after last dose:
- Prasugrel (eg, Effient) – given to prevent stroke or heart attack
- 2 full days (>48 hours) after last dose:
- Aspirin, aspirin-like, or anti-inflammatory medications (eg, Aleve, Advil, Naproxen, Ibuprofen, Nuprin, Excedrin, BC Powder, Duragesic, Voltaren)
- Herbal supplements – garlique, ginger, gingko biloba, ginseng, magnesium salicylate
- Piroxicam (eg, Feldene) - given to prevent stroke or heart attack
- Remember that you CAN give HIV to someone through a blood transfusion even if you feel well and have a negative HIV test. This is because tests cannot detect infections for a period of time after a person is exposed to HIV.
- Your complete honesty in answering all questions is very important for the safety of patients who receive your blood. All information you provide is confidential.
- Certain behaviors associated with increased risk of HIV infection include IV drug use, male-to-male sexual activity, and sexual activity with a commercial sex worker.
- Please DO NOT donate to get an HIV test.
- Please notify our staff if you have any reason to believe your blood is not suitable for transfusion.
Symptoms associated with HIV/AIDS
If you exhibit any of the following symptoms at this time, please refrain from donating:
- Unexplained weight loss of more than 10 pounds within the last 2 months
- Unexplained sweating, especially at night
- Fever higher than 99oF for more than 1 week
- Swollen glands or enlarged lymph nodes in the neck, armpit or groin, either with or without pain
- Pink, blue or purple spots or lumps, raised or flat, on or under skin or in the mouth, nose or ears (look like bruises but don’t disappear)
- White patches in the mouth (thrush)
- Persistent diarrhea
- Persistent cough and shortness of breath
Intended Use of Blood Products
All products collected are intended for transfusion. Any products deemed not suitable for transfusion could be further manufactured and/or used for commercial or research purposes.
Red blood cells (RBCs) contain iron. All blood donors, including platelet donors, lose some RBCs and iron with their donation. The impact of this iron loss on your health varies among donors. Your body needs iron to make new RBCs to replenish those you lose during donation. In younger women and frequent donors of either gender, blood donation may remove most of the body’s iron stores. Symptoms of iron deficiency include: fatigue, decreased exercise capacity, neurocognitive changes, restless leg syndrome, and pica (a craving to chew things with no nutritional value, such as ice). In addition to eating a well-balanced diet including iron-rich food, iron deficiency may be alleviated by taking multivitamins with iron or iron-only supplements. You should discuss taking a multivitamin or iron supplement, including dose and frequency, with your personal physician.
Testing of Blood Products
To protect patients, your blood will be tested for infectious diseases and certain other viruses. If your blood tests positive, it will not be transfused to a patient. If you have any reactive or abnormal test results, you will be notified by mail and your information will be placed in our electronic deferral database. You will not be able to donate again. The University of Texas MD Anderson is required by law to report donor information, including reactive results, to state or local health departments.
Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Notice of Privacy Practices
Our pledge regarding health information:
We understand that your health information is personal. We are committed to protecting your health information, otherwise referred to as Protected Health Information (PHI). We create a record of the medical history information and all testing of your blood donations. We need this to comply with certain legal requirements. This notice applies to all of the records of your donations generated by this healthcare facility. This notice is to inform you about the ways in which we may use and disclose health information about you and to describe your rights to your health information.
We are required by law to:
- Make sure that health information that identifies you is kept private.
- Give you this notice of our legal duties and privacy practice with respect to PHI
- Follow the terms of the notice that is currently in effect