I don't know what it is like in your country, but in Israel not everyone is allowed to donate blood. This is to make screening the blood easier and more productive, as every infected sample goes straight to the bin. So they want to minimize the amount of infected blood that is donated. Therefore they restrict donators who are in high risk groups. Here is a partial list of who is allowed and who is not allowed to donate blood in Israel.

And the list goes on. I was completely pissed off the last time I went to donate (actually the one before last), and was told I couldn't, because I had been pierced. The fact that the health board approves the place means nothing to them. I was pissed off for a while, and thought I won't donate. And then I thought, that's not fair to people who might need my blood. So I lie.

Have I had any part of my body pierced? No.
Have I engaged in sex with another man? No.
Have I been to Africa? No.
Is there anything else I might want to add? No.

I gave blood a little while ago here in the states. The way they did it, was they had everyone answer a bunch of really personal questions, and then took everyone's blood. I don't know if it's different in a hospital, but this situation happened to be some people coming into the office I work at to solicit the donation. The interesting thing here is that they took your blood regardless of how you answered the questions. I suppose it was done this way so that your coworkers wouldn't give you funny looks when you were turned away.

Now, here's my question: what did they do with the blood that they couldn't accept because of the way that person answered the questions? Is there some big warehouse somewhere, filled with tainted blood?

I can not give blood.

I have tried to, but nobody wants it. When my unit returned from deployment to Saudi Arabia we received a debriefing that covered many topics. One of those topics was blood donation. I was told I wouldn’t be allowed to donate blood for five years. That was almost ten years ago now.

I work on a university campus and the blood wagon rolls through every couple of months to accept donations. Not to long ago I decided I would donate. I’m AB+ and my blood had always been welcome. I figured it had been a bunch of years since I had been overseas and I could donate again. I was wrong.

I did not lie about it. I can understand the temptation, as some people want to donate and don’t believe the rules are important, valid, or fair. On the other hand, I believe in caution on the fair side of paranoia. Much like creditors and insurance companies the medical community must take into consideration certain precautions that may alienate some. The difference is that in this instance, money is not at risk, lives are.

In the U.S., the first question you will be asked when donating is if you are feeling well enough to give blood. Other general questions asked in the initial interview are about various medications that can prevent a person from donating or cause that person to wait for a specific amount of time following their last dose before they can donate blood (taken from http://www.redcross.org/):
  • Accutane (isoretinoin), Proscar (finasteride), and Propecia (finasteride) - wait 4 weeks
  • Arava (leflunomide) - wait 3 months
  • Aspirin, no waiting period for donating blood. However you must wait 36 hours after taking aspirin or any medication containing aspirin before donating platelets by apheresis
  • Chemotherapy-type drugs used for conditions other than cancer (examples: bleomycin, interferon, methotrexate) - wait 4 weeks from last dose
  • Coumadin, heparin or other prescription blood thinners- you should not donate since your blood will not clot normally. If your doctor discontinues your treatment with blood thinners, wait 5 days before returning to donate.
  • human pituitary-derived growth hormone at any time - you are not eligible to donate blood
  • Lupron used for condition other than cancer - wait 4 months from last dose
  • Plavix - wait 36 hours after taking this medication before donating platelets by apheresis
  • Soriatane (acitretin) - wait 3 years
  • Tegison (etretinate) at any time - you are not eligible to donate blood
  • Ticlid - wait 36 hours after taking this medication before donating platelets by apheresis

You are not allowed to donate blood if (taken from http://www.manateeblood.org/):

1. Have ever had a confirmed positive test for HIV (AIDS)

2. Have recently experienced the following signs or symptoms:
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Night sweats
  • Blue or purple spots (on or under the skin, or on mucous membranes) typical of Kaposi’s sarcoma
  • Lymph nodes swollen for 1 month or more
  • Persistent white spots or unusual blemishes in the mouth
  • Fever greater than 100.5 for more than 10 days
  • Persistent cough and shortness of breath
  • Persistent diarrhea
3. Have participated in activities that put you at risk of acquiring AIDS including:
  • Any man who has had sex with another man, even once since 1977
  • Past or present IV drug users (even steroids)
  • Anyone who has engaged in sex for money or drugs since 1977
4. Have had sex in the last 12 months with anyone who participated in high risk activities described above

5. Have ever had hepatitis

6. Have ever received human growth hormone (hGH) made from pituitary glands or dura mater (brain membrane) transplant

7. Know you have a disease that may be passed by blood

8. Have been in jail for 3 consecutive days within the last year

9. Were born in or lived in any of the following countries since 1977: Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Niger or Nigeria

10. Have had sex with anyone who was born in or lived in those countries mentioned in #9 since 1977

11. Traveled to one of those countries mentioned in #9 since 1977 and received a blood transfusion or any medical treatment with a product made from blood

Another restriction is that you may not donate blood if you've if between 1980 and 1995 you lived on a military base in Europe for 6 months OR lived in Europe for 5 years. This is due to mad cow disease.

Having Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease or being related to someone with this disease also impedes you from giving blood.

Common medical ailments such as anemia and hypoglycemia also impede you from giving blood. In fact, you don't need to be anemic to be rejected. Having a a low iron (hemoglobin or hematocrit) level can also prevent you from giving blood, however eating foods high in iron (such as red meat, dark green vegetables, beans, etc.) or taking a multivitamin can alleviate the problem.

In the United Kingdom the following rules apply

People who cannot give blood:

  1. You've already given blood in the last 12 weeks (normally, you must wait 16 weeks).
  2. You have a chesty cough, sore throat or active cold sore (although the end of a cold is OK).
  3. You're currently taking antibiotics or you have just finished a course within the last seven days.
  4. You've had hepatitis or jaundice in the last 12 months, likewise any ear or body piercing or tattoos, or you have received a blood transfusion yourself.
  5. You've had acupuncture in the last 12 months outside the NHS (unless you can produce the approved certificate from your acupuncturist or physiotherapist).
  6. A member of your family (parent, brother, sister or child) has suffered with CJD (Creutzfeld-Jakob Disease).
  7. You've ever received human pituitary extract (which was used in some growth hormone or fertility treatments before 1985).

You may not be able to give blood if

  1. You've had a serious illness or major surgery in the past or are currently on medication. Please discuss this with the clinical staff. The reason you're taking medicines may prevent you from donating.
  2. You've had complicated dental work (although simple fillings are OK on the same day, as are simple extractions after 24 hours).
  3. You've been in contact with an infectious disease or have been given certain immunisations in the last four weeks.
  4. You're presently on a hospital waiting list or undergoing medical tests.

Also if you are pregnant, have travelled to a malarial zone in the last year, or visited Central or South America ever you cannot donate.

In order to cut back on HIV (although each donation is tested) you should never give blood if

  1. You carry the hepatitis B virus, the hepatitis C virus or the HIV virus.
  2. You're a man who's had sex with another man, even "safe sex" using a condom.
  3. You've ever worked as a prostitute.
  4. You've ever injected yourself with drugs - even once.

You should not give blood for 12 months after sex with

  1. A man who has had sex with another man (if you're a female).
  2. A prostitute.
  3. Anyone who has ever injected themselves with drugs.
  4. Anyone with haemophilia or a related blood clotting disorder who has received clotting factor concentrates.
  5. Anyone of any race who has been sexually active in Africa (apart from Morocco, Algeria, Libya, Tunisia or Egypt) in the past year.

Summarised from http://www.bloodnet.nbs.nhs.uk

Canadian blood services has a really cool system for making the blood system safer: an anonymous opt-out system. Everyone has to do the huge questionnaire thing, but since a lot of the questions are embarassing, people lie and give blood anyhow so they don't have to explain to their friends or coworkers why they were rejected. However, now at the end of the interview, the nurse gives you a sheet with two barcode stickers on it, called Confidential Unit Exclusion labels, and leaves the room. You pick of the stickers - one means Yes, use my blood, one means No, don't use my blood, but as barcodes no one can tell by just looking at it which is which, and put one on your information sheet. The other goes in the trash. Then the nurse comes back and you go to donate.

As for the questionnaire, here are the things they look for. Answers to some questions - like have you done crack cocaine in the last 12 months - will immediately disqualify you, while questions to others - like some of the travel questions - will just mean that your blood is subjected to extra tests, for instance testing for malaria if you're considered at risk. In general anything that puts you at risk for AIDS or HIV immediately disqualifies you, because that's the one disease that can slip through all the testing they do on every unit of blood because it can be undetectable for the first 6 months of infection. The questions:

Are you feeling well, do you have a cold or flu or infection or allergy problem at the moment?

Have you taken any medication or had dental work in the last three days?

Have you had a vaccination or taken accutane in the last 3 months?

In the last six months have you been pregnant, been under a doctor's care, or taken various prostate condition drugs?

In the last 12 months have you had a piercing, tattoo, acupuncture, electrolysis, graft, been in contact with someone's blood, had an injury from a needle, had a rabies shot, or had close contact with someone who has hepatitis or jaundice?

Have you ever taken Tegison or Soriatane for skin problems, ever had a brain covering graft, ever taken human growth hormone?

Ever had yellow jaundice except at birth, hepatitis, liver problems, epilepsy, coma, fainting, heart or blood pressure problems, heart surgery, cancer, Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, kidney lung or blood problems, Chaga's disease, babesiosis, or leishmaniasis?

Ever had malaria, or been outside Canada and the US in the last three years?

Have you visited the UK or France since 1980? If so, have you spent three months or more cumulatively in either country since 1980?

Have any of your blood relatives ever been diagnosed with Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease?

Have you ever had an HIV/AIDS test other than for donating blood?

In the past 12 months have you been in jail?

Have you ever given blood elsewhere in Canada, or under a different name?

Do you have AIDS? Have you ever tested positive for HIV or AIDS?

Have you used cocaine in the last 12 months?

Have you ever taken illegal drugs or steroids with a needle, even one time?

Have you ever taken drugs or money for sex since 1977?

Male donors: have you ever had sex with a man even one time since 1977?
Female donors: have you ever had sex with a man who has had sex with another man?
All donors: have you ever had sex with someone whose sexual history you were uncertain of?

Have you ever taking clotting factor concentrates for a bleeding disorder such as hemophilia?
Have you ever had sex with someone who has AIDS or has tested positive for AIDS or HIV?

Have you had sex in the last 12 months with someone who has ever used cocaine or has injected illegal drugs with a needle, or who has taken money or drugs for sex, or taken clotting factor concentrates?

In the last 12 months have you had or been treated for syphillis or gonnorhea?

In the last 12 months have you received blood or blood products by transfusionfor any reason, such as an accident or surgery?

Have you lived or travelled in the following countries since 1977: Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Niger or Nigeria? If so, did you receive a blood transfusion or medical treatment with a blood product while you were there? Have you had sexual contact with anyone who was born or has lived in those countries since 1977?

Do you believe there is any chance you may have AIDS?

(taken and slightly edited from www.bloodservices.ca. I don't think they mind folks spreading the word, but do keep in mind: not all these questions mean you absolutely can't give blood. some do, but others depend on the situation. if you want to give blood, please go in and talk to them to find out if you are eligible. the need for blood donors is always urgent.)

That's a lot of conditions, and that's a lot of questions, a lot of very controversial questions. It might be better for their PR to cut out some of them. Obviously not all male homosexuals have AIDS or even are at risk of having AIDS. Obviously not everyone who lived in Chad for a year has AIDS. Obviously not everyone who's had a tattoo in the last year has a horrible seeping gangrenous infection or AIDS. Electrolysis for god's sake, is a ridiculously small risk. Obviously not all people who have had electrolysis have a strange infection or AIDS. BUT! Some do. Some small small percentage do and don't know it. This is life: strange things happen. And it would be really really tragic if a little kid who was in a car accident ends up with AIDS because a blood donor, a well meaning kind-hearted donor, lied about one of the questions because they were sure they knew more than the nurses about the grim statistics of AIDS risk. The policies are offensive to a lot of people. If that's what it takes to keep the blood system safe, so be it. Canada is an excellent example of the dangers of being too lax: legal battles are still going on for the many people who were infected with AIDS though a blood transfusion in the eighties, before the blood system was put in place.

Please give blood if you can. But don't fight it if you can't.

It should also be noted that in the United States having had a tattoo within the past 12 months will also exclude you from donating. Even if you can guarantee the sterility of the environment and intruments involved beyond any shadow of a doubt. One would assume that this is because of the poor sterilization techniques used in the past.

To add some Australian content:

In order to give blood in any Australian state you must:
Weigh at least 45 kg
Be in good health
Aged between 16 and 70 (18 in Tas)
Meet the guidelines that are designed to protect you and the people who receive your blood

The questionnaire: (varies slightly from state to state)

Have you:

1. Ever volunteered to donate blood before?
If yes - where and when?

2. Ever been advised not to give blood?

3. Ever suffered from anaemia or any blood disorder?

4. Ever had a serious illness, operation or been admitted to hospital?

5. Had a neurosurgical procedure involving head, brain or spinal cord between 1972 and 1989?

6. Ever received a transplant or graft (organ, cornea, dura mater, bone etc)?

7. Received injections of human growth hormone for short stature or human pituitary hormone for infertility prior to 1986?
Note: Human growth hormone prescribed for children suffering growth hormone deficiency pre-1986 was collected from pituitary glands from human cadavers and was found to be responsible for the transmission of Creutzfeldt Jakob Disease (CJD) in several cases. These days products such as Humatrope, Protropin and Nutropin contain somatropin synthesised using recombinant DNA technology.
Take a peek at http://www.cjdsupport.org.au/ or http://members.tripod.com/~cjdhome/

Have you:

8. Ever suffered head injury, stroke or epilepsy?

9. Ever had a heart or blood pressure problem, rheumatic fever, or heart murmur or chest pain?

10. Ever had a bowel disease, stomach or duodenal problems or ulcers?

11. Ever had kidney, liver or lung problems including tuberculosis (TB)?

12. Ever had diabetes, a thyroid disorder or an autoimmune disease eg rheumatoid arthritis or lupus?

13. Ever had cancer of any kind including melanoma?

14. Ever had malaria, Ross River fever, Q fever, leptospirosis or Chagas’ disease?

15. Ever had (yellow) jaundice or hepatitis?

16. Traveled or lived overseas in the last 3 years?

17. Ever had treatment with the medication TIGASON (Etretinate) or NEOTIGASON (Acitretin)?

Every time you donate we ask you to answer some questions about your general health to help us to decide firstly if it is safe for you to give blood, and if so, how we can best use your blood. These questions include:


1. Are you completely fit and well?

2. Women only
Are you pregnant or breast-feeding or have you been pregnant in the last 9 months?

For Safety Reasons:

3. In the next 3 days, do you intend to participate in any activity which would place you or others at risk of injury if you were to become unwell after donating, such as:

Driving public transport
Operating heavy machinery
Underwater diving
Piloting a plane

In the last week have you:

4. Had any dental work, cleaning, fillings or extractions?

5. Taken aspirin, pain killers or anti-inflammatory preparations?

6. Had any cuts, abrasions, sores or rashes?

7. Had a gastric upset, diarrhoea, abdominal pain or vomiting? Note: Diarrhoea and vomiting may both cause dehydration, making it difficult or dangerous to collect the required amount of blood

Since your last donation, or in the last 12 months have you:

8. Visited a doctor for any illness or surgery?

9. Had chest pain/angina or an irregular heartbeat?

10. Taken tablets for acne or skin condition?

11. Taken any other medication?

12. Worked in an abattoir?

13. Been overseas? Note: People who have lived in England (and possibly Europe, there is ongoing debate on this topic) in the last 3 years are being now being asked not to donate blood due to the outbreaks of Mad Cows Disease

14. Had a sexually transmitted disease eg gonorrhoea syphilis or herpes?

15. Had any immunisations/vaccinations?

16. Had shingles or chickenpox?

17. Do you know of anyone in your family who had or has:

Creutzfeldt Jakob Disease (CJD)
Gerstmann Straussler-Scheinker syndrome (GSS)
Fatal Familial Insomnia (FFI)?

There are some people in the community who MUST NOT give blood as it may transmit infections to people who receive it. So before you give blood we need you to answer some questions to ensure that it will be safe for people to be given your blood or blood products. The following questions are a vital part of our effort to eliminate these diseases from the blood supply.

To the best of your knowledge have you:

1. In the last 6 months had an illness with swollen glands and a rash, with or without a fever?

2. Ever thought you could be infected with HIV or have AIDS?

3. Ever "used drugs" by injection or been injected, even once, with drugs not prescribed by a doctor or dentist?

4. Ever had treatment with clotting factors such as Factor VIII of Factor IX?

5. Ever had a test, which showed you, had Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, HIV or HTLV?

6. In the last 12 months engaged in sexual activity with someone you might think would answer "yes" to any of questions (1-5)?

7. Since your last donation or in the last 12 months had sexual activity with a new partner who currently lives or has previously lived overseas?

Within the last 12 months have you:

8. Had male to male sex?

9. Had sexual activity with a male who you think might be bisexual?

10. Been a male or female sex worker (eg received payment for sex in money, gifts or drugs)?

11. Engaged in sexual activity with a male or female sex worker?

12. Been injured with a used needle (needlestick)?

13. Had a blood/body fluid splash to eyes, mouth, nose or to broken skin?

14. Had a tattoo (including cosmetic tattooing), skin piercing, electrolysis or acupuncture? Note: several years ago, (I don’t knowwhether this is still current) it was permitted to give blood 3 months after ear or nose piercing done in a hairdresser’s salon, but any other piercings required a waiting period of 12 months.

15. Been imprisoned in a prison or lock-up?

16. Had a blood transfusion?

17. Had (yellow) jaundice or hepatitis or been in contact with someone who has?

All donations of blood are tested for the presence of Hepatitis B and C, HIV 1 and 2 (AIDS virus), syphilis, and HTLV I and II.

Questionnaire from http://www.arcbs.redcross.org.au/

During pre-donation tests, blood iron levels and blood pressure are also taken, and donation will be refused if results are outside a given range. Clinic workers have also begun asking about family histories of the genetically inherited, common iron-accumulation disorder haemochromatosis, as blood donation is the recommended treatment for managing the disease. The risk factors- if any- for receiving blood from a haemochromatosis sufferer are not known. .
Check this out: http://www.gesa.org.au/patient_inf/c2_2.htm

I must admit, the battery of questions and tests have made me slack at giving blood. I was somewhat offended several years ago when I found that I couldn’t donate for 12 months due to an eyebrow piercing. At the time, the waiting period following ear or nose piercing in a hairdresser’s salon was 3 months, whereas all other piercings, no matter whether they could be verified as sterile or not, got you booted for a year. At the time I wondered whether getting a slightly unusual piercing (well it was at that time and place) meant that you were more likely to be involved in high-risk activities. I got over it. If my answers on the questionnaire mean I get turned away, so be it. Fuck being offended, no matter how sure I am that I’m fine,if there’s the slightest, tiniest, most infinitesimal chance that I could be giving another human being a death sentence or a nasty illness, I ain’t gonna do it. Not that I’m an angel, I often go to work when I’ve got the flu.

Never donate blood in groups. Fueled by peer pressure or potential embarrassment, the members of your group (co-workers, schoolmates, family members) may go with the crowd when they really ought not to be donating blood.

Some people might have a very real problem telling their employer/spouse/child/etc. the reason they shouldn't donate; it's best not to put people in that position. At best, it is a waste of time (see yam's w/u in this node on the Canadian Blood Services' bar codes). At worst, it spreads disease.

I can't donate blood. You probably can't donate blood either, if you meet any of these criteria:
  • If you are 17 or younger you may not donate blood, yet
  • If you weigh less than 110 pounds you may not donate blood
  • If you have had a blood transfusion in the past 12 months you may not give blood
  • If you have been treated with chemotherapy, immunotherapy, or horomonal therapy, you may not give blood
  • If you have used cocaine or other nasal drugs within the past 12 months you may not give blood
  • If you have given blood within the last 8 weeks you may not give blood, yet
  • If you are a male who has had sex with another male since 1977 you may not give blood
  • If you have ever used a needle to inject drugs not perscribed by a physician you may not give blood
  • If you have taken drugs or money in exchange for sex since 1977 you are not eligible to give blood
  • If you have recieved a tattoo in the past 12 months you are not allowed to give blood
  • If you have recently traveled to a country with high-risk of certain diseases, you may not be eligible to give blood
For a full list of the rules, visit http://www.redcross.org/services/biomed/blood/learn/eligibl.html or better yet, click here: Who is allowed to donate blood?

So, it seems as though there are a huge number of potential donors excluded from donating. What, then, are we to do, if we wish to contribute something?

Donate money to the Red Cross: If you're unable to directly give blood to the organization, money you donate will still be used to help save lives. Money will be used to facilitate blood collection, to assist in disaster relief operations, and for relief in combat areas.

Convince your friends and family to donate. If you can't give blood yourself, what better way to help out then to get one or more others to give blood in your place? If you can convince two friends to donate, then the world is twice as well off than if you had simply given blood yourself.

Become an Organ Donor. If you register as an organ donor, and tell your friends and family, it will assure that in the unfortunate event of your death, your pieces will at least be used constructively. Note that many of the restrictions on giving blood might prevent you from becoming an organ donor, but the age and weight requirements will not.

Facilitate happiness. If you can't do anything else, you can simply do your part to make the world a better place. A polite comment to a stranger walking down the street could possibly brighten their entire day, which, while isn't quite saving a life, is still a noble cause.

Apologies for the US-centricness of this WU, but it is where I live, and can obtain the information easiest, and the guidelines should be similar in most other countries.

Having just given blood yesterday, and given several times in the last 15 years (in New York and New Jersey), I can also state that in the US, at least in New York and New Jersey, general donations (as opposed to directed donations) also have the ''opt out'' barcode stickers which yam describes in the Canadian system.

Aside from the long questionnaire, your general feeling of well-being and whether you've had an illness within an x period of time, when you go to give blood they will also check your temperature, blood pressure, and hemoglobin levels. All must be within normal ranges, and your hemoglobin level cannot be below 12. And Chiisuta reminds me that they also check pulse rate, and anyone over about 100 will be turned away.

To test your hemoglobin, they will prick one of your fingers, and place a drop of blood into a little testing unit which will display your level after about a minute. If your hemoglobin reading is too low, you will not be permitted to donate.

I've been turned away because of this in the past, and it is a bit of a pain. Especially the time I went to give a directed donation for my brother's father-in-law who was going to have open heart surgery. This is, however, extremely common in women who are generally somewhat anemic part of every month. I have found that eating iron rich foods and taking a good supplement every day or every other day for at least a week prior to donating can prevent being turned away.*

If you take a supplement, NEVER exceed the recommended dosage. Iron is extremely bad for you in excessive quantities. Vitamin C helps it be absorbed, so wash it down with some orange juice if you are so inclined. Avoid eating anything with calcium in it when you take a supplement as calcium inhibits iron absorption. I also recommend taking the supplement with some food, as I find it always does a number on my digestion (which is why I don't normally take iron supplements). It also helps to massage your finger tips a bit before you are tested, and to generally get the blood flowing in your hands.

Some iron rich foods: meats, beans, fortified grains, green vegetables (especially okra), dried fruit, molasses, dark chocolate. Check the labels for the percent daily value of iron. Some things touted for high iron have less than you'd think; say a hand full of nuts compared to a molasses cookie. Also, a friend who is an RN once told me that garlic helps build heme. I don't know how proven this is, but garlic is certainly tasty with meats, beans, fortified grains, and green vegetables....

Some thoughts on what to do the day you donate and afterwards.

  • Eat breakfast, eat lunch, eat dinner. Eat good, balanced meals and snacks all day. Try to eat something no more than an hour but no less than half an hour before you donate.
  • Drink fluids, and make sure that most of them aren’t caffeinated. Keep hydrated all day, before and after donating. This will help your donation go faster and you'll feel better afterwards because your total blood volume will be optimized, which means the percentage they remove will be less than if you were dehydrated. Also, your body will want to replace the lost blood volume, so help it out and make plenty of fluid available.
  • Try not to eat anything excessively fatty right after you donate blood. I don't know why cookies are always set out for donors. They invariably make me slightly nauseous as my system tries to digest the fat. An orange is a much better sugar hit for right after donation.
  • Don’t push getting up and going back about your business. Relax, have some juice, and just sit there for 15 minutes. Make sure you feel normal before you run off. If you are light headed, queasy, or otherwise uncomfortable or weird feeling, don’t go anywhere. If you feel really uncomfortable, let an attendant know, and lie down. TRUST ME. I’ve had this happen before, and it’s much worse getting halfway out of the hospital, making a mess of the lobby and fainting in the bathroom, only to get taken to emergency and having to spend an hour w/an IV for a friend. This is one lesson that has led to many of the recommendations on this list.
  • Take good care of yourself eating and drinking-wise for a few days as your body replaces the lost blood cells. You’ll feel all the better for it!

One last thought, please consider signing up as a potential bone marrow donor. Even if you are found as a match, you can decline to donate for whatever reason. But, if you are eligible to donate blood, and feel comfortable with the idea of potentially donating marrow, you can help be part of a cure for someone with no other options. When you register, they take a blood sample to generate your marrow profile for their database. As a bit of perspective, I signed up with the National Marrow Donor Program (www.marrow.org) over 10 years ago and have never been contacted as a match. Minority donors are particularly needed but finding a match for anyone is extremely difficult, much more so than matching a blood type, so please consider it.

* Oh, to the women out there, please don't donate during or right after your period. Wait at least a week while amending your diet to compensate.

In Finland, these factors preclude donating blood:

  • male homosexuality (supposed AIDS risk; C-Dawg points my attention to the fact that, presumably, this refers to having sex with other males and not just being homosexual, although the Finnish Red Cross merely states that male homosexuality prevents donating blood)
  • most chronic illnesses, including cardiovascular diseases, epilepsy, and diabetes (being that Finland has the highest incidence of IDDM (type 1 diabetes) in the world, this has an effect on blood supplies. They wouldn't take my blood, for instance. I suppose the reason is the possibility of health risks for a chronically ill donor.)
  • intravenous drug abuse, severe alcoholism
  • HIV, hepatitis, syphilis
  • having lived in Great Britain for more than six months between 1980 and 1996 (Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease)
  • less than a week has passed since having a cold (two weeks if feverish)
  • less than two weeks have passed since taking antibiotics or sulfa drugs
  • the required time has not passed since having a vaccination (varies from three days to four weeks)
  • pregnancy, breast feeding
  • childbirth less than nine months ago
  • having been in malaria-infested areas less than six months or three years ago (depending on duration of stay)
  • being tattooed or pricked by a used syringe or having acupuncture (by someone who is not a health care professional) less than one year ago
  • brief sexual relations less than two months ago
  • working as a prostitute, buying the services of a prostitute, or having a sexually transmitted disease less than one year ago

Finnish Red Cross, Veripalvelu, http://www.veripalvelu.redcross.fi/verenluovutus/main111.html

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