back to article What conditions disqualify you from donating blood?

Also in this week's column: What is the seven year itch? What makes a good swimmer? What is diptheria? What conditions disqualify you from donating blood? Asked by Patricia Lowe of Boston, Massachusetts, USA Some people are disqualified from donating blood because they have diseases that are transmissible via blood. …


This topic is closed for new posts.
  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    UK rules are totally different

    See the "National Blood Service" website for information pertaining to UK blood donors

    Note Q12:

    Are you a man who has had oral or anal sex with another man (even if you used a condom)

    If so - Go away, we don't like your blood!

    More homophobic biggoted paranoia

  2. Jens Goerke

    Another disqualifying condition

    Here in Germany you can't donate blood if you've spent more than half a year in Britain between 1980 and 1996.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    interesting... having protected sex with another man wont prevent a man in america donating blood... americans more forward thinking than brits?!

  4. Dean Collins

    US Military

    What the heck are they giving to people in the US Military that they dont want going into the blood supply?


  5. Nic Clarke

    RE: Another disqualifying condition

    Also In Australia you can't donate blood if you've spent more than half a year in Britain between 198? and 1996.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Haematocrit != level of iron

    Not the same thing, level of iron can be determined in the lab only, where as haematocrit is the volume of red blood cells in a blood tube, expressed as a percentage. of total volume. People with a normal haematocrit could have a low iron level, due to larger red blood cells. Hamatocrit = Volume of red blood cells x Number of red blood cells. Iron levels depend on boudnd iron, non bound, fe2+, fe3++, etc, much more intricate. Iron deficiency anaemia leads to smaller red blood cells, thus decreasing the haematocrit but this is a chronic change, and increased sympathetic stimulation (as when that nurse approaches you with that BIG needle) could easily increase the number of red blood cells thus artificially increase the haematocrit. I thought they measured haemoglobin, as the rate of sedimentation when they drop the blood into I assume is a sulphated solution? (copper?)

    My experiences as a blod donor

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    That makes sense but....

    ...there's a big difference between "testing positive" and "once tested positive".

    I was a committed blood donor for years. During a blood drive where I work I donated and because of a fluke in a test my donation came back "tested positive for hepatitis, but you probably don't have hepatitis".

    I don't have hepatitis. It's been five years and I feel fine. I've had two doctors test me for hepatitis and those tests came back negative. And ever since I've "not contracted hepatitis" I'm not allowed to donate.

    Don't try to figure this out. It doesn't compute.

  8. Les

    UK or western EU . . .

    this rule "Being deferred from travel to the UK and Western Europe due to concerns about Mad Cow Disease rules one out as a blood donor." is acctualy more complicated that they state here, basicly it's the same as others above, if you spent 6 months or more 1980-1996.

    What I don't get about this rule is If I was only there for a week and had eaten mad cow infected beef I would be at risk. So what's up with the 6 month rule?

  9. Duncan Q12

    Surely they can't actually say that Q12 on the website?

    Is it ok for oral sex between a woman and a man (even with a condom) but not for a man and a man? I'm sorry I'm not even gay and I find that statement completely shocking.

    What difference does it make? Maybe they should have one that says "do you spit or swallow"?

  10. Mark

    Rules for American Red Cross Donors

    Here are the rules in an easy to read format, including some of the reasons why a particular rule is in place.


  11. Ian Thomas

    HIV paranoid

    If you thing Q12 is bad (and it doesn't just apply to gay men, it covers any man who has ever had sex with another man - even if it was just receiving one blow job years ago), then look at Q16. A woman who has had sex with the said one-blow-job-man must wait 12 month before giving blood.

  12. John Airey

    Explanation of Q12 NBS

    I've been a blood donor for about twenty years, but I've made over 180 donations (including plasma and platelets). Question 12 has been around ever since AIDS cases first hit the news and relates to the historical fact that more homosexuals caught HIV than heterosexuals. This is no longer the case, but the question remains as an anomaly.

    Now please don't scream homophobia because it's not pleasant to be as anti anti-gay as anti-gays were some years ago. In other words, it makes you a hypocrite. Also, homophobia is a made up word and criticising homosexuality (and for that matter, heterosexuality) isn't illegal. To be absolutely clear, inciting violence against anyone *is* illegal.

  13. Tre LaDormin

    malaria, military

    it used to be that malaria was grounds for lifetime prohibition, but it seems the rules have been eased, only excluding those who have had a re-occurrence in the past twelve addition, the exclusion of US military members deployed to Iraq and/or Afghanistan is probably due to their exposure to malaria, hepatitis, STD's and various other communicable diseases

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    MS also prevents you giving blood.

    I tried to give blood a number of years ago a few years after I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis back in 1998 and they said I couldn't give blood. Apparently, it's not because MS is blood transmissable (it isn't) but a loss of a pint of blood could cause the immune system to kick off and cause an attack of MS.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Americans never more forward thinking than, well, anybody.

    The American Red Cross Rules are actually more stringent for homosexual behavior than the Brits. Here's a direct quote from one of their restrictions:

    "Are a male who has had sexual contact with another male, even once, since 1977"

    So, women who have unprotected sex with a new guy or gal every day are welcome, but a gay man who has protected sex with only one partner one time in 1978 ... asta la vista baby!

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    glad to give blood?

    Rather interestingly in Northern Ireland if you a are part of ............."A further, much smaller, group of deferrals relates to lifestyle e.g. drug use, homosexual sexual contact etc. Some deferrals within this category are lifelong, while others require a 12-month deferral. This is specified in the HealthCheck questionnaire. Please do not be afraid to discuss any of these issues with staff on session; they are well used to dealing with these queries and your comments will be treated with absolute confidentiality"

    As Billy Bragg would have said "Sing if you're glad to be gay" - just don't give blood

  17. Marcus

    An Aussie perspective on this *bloody* nonsense

    Dear Sir,

    Whilst i appreicate the article you have penned is more than Likely based on the UK / EU blood donation requirements one of the disqualifications to donate blood, in Australia, Is if you are a gay man. We can not donate blood yet the medical *industry* will accept us as organ donors.

    Once again the medical *industry* stagmatises us whilst we are alive but will merrily farm our very fabulous and well accesorised organs once we are *pushing up pansies* as it were.

    My most Faaaabulous Regards, Marcus Steele

  18. R M Crorie

    It's not even a pint in the UK...

    ... Contrary to the popular myth, if you donate blood in the UK, the National Blood Service does NOT take a pint.

    Barring anything going wrong, it's always five-sixths of a pint, or in new money (!), around 470 millilitres.

    Why the widespread misconception of "a pint"? I've no idea whatsoever: but you could earn the price of a few drinks from this little factoid in pub bets, or if you are wealthy enough already, demonstrate your new knowledge for free when composing a pub quiz or trivia session.

  19. Jeremy Royston

    Another disqualifying condition

    The last time I went to donate blood here in Germany they didn't want my precious English blood. I had osteomyelitis (a bone marrow infection) 49 years ago, it was cured completely and there were no symptoms since then

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Explanation of Q12 NBS - Comment

    In reference to John's post. I would like to say that he needs to get his facts right before posting as his comment about Q.12 being nothing more than an anomaly. Implying that it has no further use.

    I'm gay and this question of giving blood comes up quite often as it highly annoys the gay community. One of us posted this the below to another forum about this very subject

    "I sent an email to the NBS asking some of the questions in this post. They sent me a 4 page reply by mail today with information/answers/sources of reference.

    It basically says that ALL rules regarding donors are reviewed annually and that there are currently no plans to review the rules for gay men in the near future. "

    So it looks as though Q.12 is reviewed every year - and so even in 2006 when HIV is no longer classed as the 'gay' virus. They still disallow us to give blood.

    Secondly - "homophobia is a made up word" - and yet this word is recognised nationally (and certainly internationally) and appears in well known dictionaries (like the Oxford Dictionary). And thus making it no-longer a made up word.

    "criticising homosexuality isn't illegal" - But there are laws that provide me with protection against discrimination on the bases of my sexuality.

    "To be absolutely clear, inciting violence against anyone *is* illegal" But being homophibic isn't just about inciting violence against gay people it's about the fear of or contempt for lesbians and gay men (and the behavior based on such a feeling)

  21. Tom Watson

    Once positive, always positive

    I "tried" to donate bloos a few years ago. They did some tests, and one of the "qualifying" tests came back positive (I don't know why). When they re-tested, the result was negative. So I am "healthy". But, since I tested "positive" (which really wasn't), I can't donate blood (much as I'd like to). Oh, well.

  22. Paul

    UK is different

    I would like to ask a couple of questions. Firstly, why has a list of US rules been posted on a UK news site (a UK technology website!), when there are different rules for the UK?

    Secondly, what was the point of this article? There was no discussion from the author as to whether or not they agreed or disagreed. A list of regulations was simply posted on a webpage, posing as an article. But articles normally contain discussion and opinions!

    I am a regular blood donor, so I have nothing against this article being posted. In fact, the more we can do to raise the awareness of the need for blood donation, the better. But it just seems weird to me that the US rules have been posted, rather than the UK rules.

    For those of you interested in reading the UK rules, they can be found here:

  23. Kevin Ault

    I thought diabetics were not allowed to give blood

    Bloody hell, I was told years ago that I could not give blood as I was diabetic and on regular medication. If this is not the case, then somebody wants shooting, I used to give blood some years ago.

  24. Alasdair McNeill


    This is probably another difference between American and British rules. I have twice asked to donate in Britain and been told that I cannot due to my diabetes.

  25. Andy Pyne

    You can give but not recieve.....

    My other half *may* or *may not* have recieved blood during an operation in her childhood about 20years ago.

    Although we were both successfully giving blood since the age of 18 (12yrs ago), about 2-3yrs ago, she was told she could no longer give blood because of the uncertainty whether she has ever recieved any blood.

    Surely any negative effects from blood recieved 20rys ago would have shown themselves or gone away by now.

    Can anyone explain what this 'new'(ish) rule is in aid of, and what has happened to those poor people that recieved her tainted blood for 10yrs! I'm not an expert, but I'm pretty sure that she's not Harold-Shipman'ed her way though the population in the last decade. ;o)

This topic is closed for new posts.

Other stories you might like