Please note that these guidelines are designed to cover most of the reasons a person would be ineligible to donate blood, but are subject to interpretation by the blood bank on the day of the donation.  Also, they only pertain to donations to be transfused into other people; guidelines are much less stringent for donations for one’s own use.  Not all individuals who feel they may qualify will be eligible on scrutiny of their history.  So if you have an eligibility question, call or email us! 847.570.2242  donateblood@northshore.org

General Health

Donors should be in good general health and feeling well, without common ailments like colds, coughs, or current or recent gastro-intestinal illness (“stomach flu”) on the day of donation.

Age

Individuals must be at least 17 years old to donate blood in Illinois.

Size

Blood donors must weigh at least 110 pounds.

Active Infections and Antibiotics

Individuals should not donate if they are taking antibiotics for an active infection such as a bladder or respiratory infection.  However, if antibiotics are being taken to control acne or to PREVENT an infection (e.g. chronic medication to prevent bladder infections or penicillin taken when having dental procedures) that is not a problem for donating.

Heart Disease

A history of coronary artery disease (angina, heart attack, bypass operations, or angioplasty), congestive heart failure, or significant disease of the heart valves disqualifies a person from donating.  Asymptomatic “mitral valve prolapse” or a history of a heart murmur are not usually a problem.

High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure is not a problem if it is controlled by medication. The donor’s blood pressure limits are: systolic BP between 90 and 180 mm Hg; diastolic BP between 50 and 100 mm Hg.

Travel or Residence in Another Country

Travel to a country where malaria is a problem disqualifies a person from donating for one year. This is most often an issue for individuals who went to Mexico and left the city or resort to visit archeological sites in the jungle.

Residence in the United Kingdom for 3 months or more (cumulative over all visits)between the years of 1980 and 1996 disqualifies an individual from donating because of concerns about “transmissible spongiform encephalopathy” (mad cow disease).  Similarly, anyone who has spent a TOTAL of 5 years in Europe since 1980 cannot donate. Residence on a United States military base in Europe or Turkey for 6 months or more between  1980 and 1996 may disqualify you depending on the specific location.  Finally, transfusion in the U.K. since 1980 disqualifies a person from donating. Again call us to be sure.

If there is a current epidemic of SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) or other infection somewhere in the world, other travel restrictions may apply.

A History of Cancer

Cancers of the blood or of blood cells (individuals with any form of leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin’s disease) permanently disqualify the donor.  Those with solid cancers (breast, lung, colon, etc.) are deferred for 5 years if no chemotherapy was given; if you have had chemotherapy you are deferred permanently.  Basal and squamous cell cancers of the skin, or in situ carcinoma of the uterine cervix are not a problem.


The following common conditions DO NOT DISQUALIFY a person from donating

  • Epilepsy (As long as seizures are controlled by medication, a person can donate.)
  • Asthma or allergies (As long as the donor is not currently symptomatic.)
  • High cholesterol or receipt of cholesterol–lowering drugs
  • Most immunizations (Exceptions; measles, mumps, polio, rubella, typhoid, chicken pox, smallpox and unlicensed vaccines disqualify donors for varying periods.)

The following conditions PERMANANTLY DISQUALIFY a person from donating

  • Diabetes requiring insulin (Diabetes controlled by diet or oral medications only is not a problem.)
  • A history of viral hepatitis of any kind
  • Receipt of a “dura mater” tissue graft (The dura is a thick membrane on the inside of the skull.)
  • A blood relative with Creutzfeldt-Jacob disease (If you haven’t heard of it, don’t worry.)
  • A history of Chagas disease or Babesiosis
  • Autoimmune diseases (Lupus erythematosis, severe reumatoid arthritis, ulcerative colitis, Chrohn's disease, multiple sclerosis, graves disease)

The following conditions disqualify a person from donating until they are resolved

  • Active tuberculosis (Individuals taking medication for a positive tuberculosis skin test are still eligible.)
  • Recent West Nile Virus infection (Donors must have been without symptoms for 8 weeks.)
  • Active Malaria (Donors must have been treated and symptom free for 3 years.)
  • Pregnancy (A woman must wait for 6 weeks after delivery before donating.)

The following MEDICATIONS disqualify a person from donating for the period of time listed

  • TegisonR (etretinate); PERMANENT
  • Human growth hormone; PERMANENT
  • Clotting factor concentrate; PERMANENT
  • SoriataneR (acitretin); 6 months
  • AvodartR (dutasteride); 6 months
  • ProscarR (finasteride) or Propecia; 4 weeks
  • AccutaneR   (isotretinoin); 4 weeks
  • Aspirin; 36 hour deferral for PLATELET donation

The following risk factors for AIDS or Hepatitis disqualify an individual for the period of time listed

  • Men with a history of sexual contact with another man any time since 1977; PERMANENT
  • Use of a needle to take drugs, steroids, or anything not prescribed by doctor PERMANENT
  • Receipt of drugs or money in exchange for sex; PERMANENT
  • Any positive test for HIV (AIDS virus); PERMANENT
  • Birth, residence (not travel), or transfusion in certain West African countries (Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Niger, Nigeria); PERMANENT
  • Sexual contact with an individual born or residing in these West African countries; PERMANENT
  • Sexual contact or contact with blood or saliva with/from person with hepatitis; 12 MONTHS
  • Blood transfusion, tissue graft, or organ transplant; 12 MONTHS
  • Tattoo, acupuncture, body piercing (exceptions, known use of disposable needles); 12 MONTHS
  • Accidental needle exposure or other exposure to someone else’s blood; 12 MONTHS
  • Treatment for syphilis or gonorrhea; 12 MONTHS
  • Spent more than 3 days in a lockup/jail/prison; 12 MONTHS
  • Sexual contact with a prostitute; 12 MONTHS
  • Sexual contact with a person at risk for hepatitis or AIDS for the above reasons; 12 MONTHS
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