How Often Can I Donate Blood?

This article has been provided by our partner MI Blues Perspectives.

The new year brings new opportunities to give back and help others. Donating blood is a thoughtful and selfless way to do that, as one blood donation can save as many as three lives. 

If you plan on giving blood multiple times this year, you may have some questions that need answering. In honor of National Blood Donor Month in January, here’s a quick refresher of some commonly asked blood donation-related questions, including how often you can safely donate. 

What Are the Requirements Before Donating Blood?

There are three main basic eligibility requirements for blood donors. You must: 

  • Be in good health. 
  • Be at least 16 years old in most states. 
  • Weigh at least 110 pounds. 

Who Cannot Donate Blood? 

You may be restricted from giving blood if: 

  • You have a cold, flu, or any other acute illness that results in a fever. You should call to cancel your appointment if you don’t feel well on the day of your donation. Call and reschedule 24 hours after your symptoms have passed. 
  • Your iron (hemoglobin) levels are too low. The American Red Cross routinely checks hemoglobin levels before each blood and platelet donation. If those levels are too low, you must wait before donating. 
  • You’ve recently traveled outside the U.S. and exposed yourself to certain diseases. Individuals who have lived in or traveled to certain countries may be disqualified from donating blood. This includes areas with a high rate of malaria or a history of Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD), commonly known as “mad cow disease.” A person may also be rejected if diagnosed with Hepatitis B or C, AIDS, HIV, hemochromatosis, sickle cell disease, low iron, tuberculosis, or certain blood cancers and blood infections, like malaria. 

Click here for a complete list of restrictions: The American Red Cross blood donation eligibility criteria. 

How Often Can I Donate Blood and Plasma?

In the U.S., individuals can donate whole blood every 56 days – six times yearly or once every eight weeks. There are some rare exceptions depending on the blood donor center, so be sure to talk with the staff at your center about specific requirements. 

  • Plasma donors may donate as often as every 28 days, up to 13 times per year.  
  • Power Red (or double red cell) donors must wait 116 weeks – or 112 days – between Power Red donations. 
  • Platelet apheresis donors may donate every seven days, up to 24 times per year in a 12-month period in the U.S. Regulations are different for those giving blood for themselves. Platelets are tiny cells in the blood that form clots and prevent bleeding. Every 15 seconds, someone needs platelets, according to the American Red Cross. 

Regular and repeat healthy donors are welcomed to help provide a steady blood supply to people in need. Giving young and giving often can potentially save thousands of lives. 

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