Eligibility & Blood Testing on Mundane Donations

Written by: SphynxCatVP
Link to original: http://sphynxcatvp.nocturna.org/articles/sc-donors-testing.html

Tests Done on Donated Blood by Donation Centers

These are the blood tests done on blood given at a donation center such as the Red Cross. Please note that the primary emphasis on these tests are to determine whether the donor has an infectious disease that's transmissible via blood transfusion, and what blood type the person is (to avoid blood typing problems later) - not the person's general health status (which is better served by a "CBC w/differential" and a "chem20" or "complete metabolic" and other testing done by your primary physician.)

At a donation center, the amount usually taken is about a pint (approximately 470ml), and can take about 10-20 minutes. It takes 24-48 hours to replace the overall blood volume, but approximately 6 weeks to replace the actual red cells. A unit is roughly 45% red cells, roughly 55% plasma, and a very small proportion of platelets. An average size adult has about 10-12 pints / apx 5 liters, depending on weight.

Losing about 1/5 or more of the normal amount of blood in your body causes hypovolemic/hemorrhagic shock.

General Health

  • Are fit, healthy, and not suffering from cold, flu or other illness at time of donation
  • Must weigh at least 110 pounds / 50kg / 7.8st (less than that means increased risk of fainting)
  • Must be at least legal age and under 70-ish (varies with country and/or state/province)
  • Have eaten and had 3-4 glasses of water or juice before donating
  • Must NOT have donated whole blood within the last 6-8 weeks
  • Must NOT have a reason for deferral (some are outlined below; see links for further details)

Base Blood Test List

  • Hepatitis B Surface Antigen (HBsAg)
  • Antibodies to the Hepatitis B Core (Anti-HBc)
  • Antibodies to the Hepatitis C Virus (Anti-HCV)
  • Antibodies to the Human Immunodeficiency Virus, Types 1 and 2 (Anti-HIV-1, -2)
  • Antibodies to Human T-Lymphotropic Virus, Types I and II (Anti-HTLV-I, -II)
  • Syphilis
  • Nucleic Acid Amplification Testing (NAT) for West Nile Virus and/or HIV-1 and HCV
  • Alanine Aminotransferase (ALT) (when raised, indicates possibility of otherwise-undetectable hepatitis)
  • A/B/O blood type + rh factor determination
  • Red cell antibody detection

Additional Blood Tests (on an as-needed or regional basis)

  • Malaria
  • T-Cruzii (Trypanosoma cruzi - "Chagas' Disease")
  • Cytomegalovirus (CMV)
  • Sickle Cell Trait

Reasons for Blood Donor Deferrals

Prospective blood donors may be unable to donate for reasons that could either compromise their own health or the safety of the donated blood supply. Common reasons why people may be temporarily deferred are listed below. This is not a comprehensive list owing to the many factors that can determine a donor's eligibility - a more comprehensive list may be obtained from your local blood donation agency.

  • Minor illness (donors are required to be healthy at time of donation)
  • Drugs/medications (dependent on the type of drugs/medication or underlying cause requiring medication)
  • Recent dental work (risk of infection/septicemia in the blood)
  • Low Hemoglobin counts (due to anemia; bad idea for people with anemia to have this much blood loss)
  • Recent tattoos/piercings/accupuncture/electrolysis (risk of hepatitis or other infections from the needles)
  • Recent major surgery (deferral time dependent on the type of surgery, recovery period, and reason for surgery)
  • HIV/AIDS high risk activities
  • Diabetes (if you're on insulin or other medication, because it can be dangerous for non-diabetics)
  • Exposure to disease/geographical-based deferrals (such as Malaria)
  • Pregnancy (during, and until 3 months after breastfeeding stops)
  • Recent vaccinations, depending on the vaccination
  • High risk sexual activities
  • Food poisoning (because the bacteria can still be in the blood)
  • Certain diseases (either because they're contagious or the cause and nature of them is uncertain)


See the reference links below for more detailed explanations of the above, and specific disease deferral information.