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Sharp Health News

Common myths about blood donation

June 8, 2021

Blood donation myths

Local hospitals, like those in the Sharp HealthCare system, rely every day on members of the community who give unselfishly of themselves to help save the lives of others. One in 7 people entering the hospital need blood or blood components. That blood is freely given by those who participate in their local blood drive. However, while nearly 40 percent of Americans are eligible to donate blood, only 5 percent do so, often because people think that they cannot donate for one reason or another.

Below are five common myths about blood donation. If you were told in the past that you cannot donate for one reason or another, the requirements may have changed. It's a good idea to try again as you may now be able to give. The process is quick and easy, and can help save a life. When you go to donate, the nursing staff will walk you through a series of questions to make sure you are eligible.

Myth 1: You can't donate blood if you are on certain medications.
As long as you are healthy and meet all qualifications, medication should not prevent you from donating blood. However, there are a few medications that require a waiting period to donate. These include:

  • Acne medications like Accutane (wait one month)
  • Blood thinners like Coumadin or Lovenox (wait seven days)
  • Propecia, a hair-loss medication (wait one month)

Refer to the San Diego Blood Bank website for more information on medication restrictions.

Myth 2: You can't donate blood if you have certain medical conditions.
Well-managed health conditions such as diabetes, epilepsy, hypertension or asthma will not interfere with blood donation. However, there are waiting periods for some conditions.

Visit the San Diego Blood Bank website to find details on waiting periods.

If you have HIV or AIDS, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, or Hepatitis B or C, you cannot donate blood.

Myth 3: You can't donate blood if you have traveled or lived overseas.
Most international travel will not interfere with blood donation. However, there are a few limitations related to outbreaks of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease and mad cow disease. For example, if you lived for more than five years on the European continent between 1980 and the present, you cannot donate blood.

You may also be deferred if you spent time in a country with malaria in the last year. A donor specialist can help you make this determination.

Myth 4: You can't donate blood if you recently got a tattoo or body piercing.
If you received your tattoo at a licensed shop in California, there is no need to wait to donate blood. If your piercing was performed with sterile, single-use needles (common in all piercing shops), there is no need to wait.

Myth 5: You can't donate blood if you identify as LGBTQ+.
In late 2015, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration changed their policy on blood donation from men who have sex with other men from a lifetime ban to a deferral of at least 12 months after last contact. Women who have sex with women, transgender, nonbinary and intersex individuals can donate blood if they meet all general eligibility requirements.

As part of Sharp Lends a Hand, Sharp HealthCare is committed to collecting 1,300 units of blood for the San Diego community in 2021. To support this effort, Sharp will host blood drives throughout the year, at Sharp locations around San Diego County.

Visit to find a donation center or mobile blood drive near you. If donating at a non-Sharp facility, mention Sharp's code SHRP to support the 2021 goal.

This story was updated in June 2021 to include updated blood donation goal numbers.

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