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Is It Safe to Donate Blood? The Basics of Blood Donation

Medically reviewed by Kristina Campos, MD · General Practitioner

Written by Louise Nichole Logarta · Updated Nov 09, 2021

Is It Safe to Donate Blood? The Basics of Blood Donation

What is blood donation? Is it safe to donate blood? Blood donation is a process/ procedure wherein blood is drawn from a volunteer donor which can be used for surgeries and other medical procedures.

However, despite the importance of this practice, many people still wonder: is it safe to donate blood? The simple answer is yes, provided that the donor fits certain eligibility criteria.

What are the types of blood donation?

Whole blood donation

Is it safe to donate blood? In this most basic type of donation, donors give about half a liter (1 pint) of blood. This blood will then be separated into its different components: cells, plasma and sometimes, platelets.


This type of donation refers to the collection and subsequent separation of blood elements, with the unused components being returned to the donor.

  • Plateletpheresis collects platelets. Platelets help stop bleeding and are used for people with clotting issues, cancer, and those undergoing major surgeries.
  • Double red cell donation is when you give twice the amount of red blood cells in a single session. Red blood cells aid in oxygen delivery. They are used for those suffering blood loss due to serious injury, or sickle cell anemia.
  • Plasmapheresis collects plasma. This helps in blood clotting. Plasma also contains infection-fighting antibodies. Plasma aids those in emergency situations to slow bleeding.
  • Is it safe to donate blood? Requirements for blood donation

    There are certain conditions that medical bodies set to ensure that it is safe to donate blood, for both the donor and recipient. These include weight and height requirements. Donors must also be in good health.

    All donors are screened and assessed whether they are in good health to donate. Those who do not pass the criteria are not allowed to proceed with the donation.

    According to the Philippine Red Cross, a healthy person may donate blood every 3 months.

    The Department of Health notes that potential blood donors must weigh at least 110 lbs. The volume of blood donated will be commensurate to your body weight. Pulse rate must be between 60 and 100 beats/minute, while blood pressure must be between 90 and 160 systolic, and 60 and 100 diastolic.

    In addition, aside from the vital signs mentioned, DOH also mentions a hemoglobin count of at least 125g/L. Hemoglobin carries oxygen from the lungs to the body tissues.

    Is it safe to donate blood? Yes, if you are healthy and pass the criteria for blood donation.

    What makes me ineligible to donate blood?

    Illness or infection

    Those suffering from colds, the flu, or other contagious/infectious diseases that require immediate treatment are advised to wait until they are fully recovered and/or finished with their antibiotic course to ensure that it is safe to donate blood.

    Underweight requirement

    Those with low body weight may have lower blood volume. The reason for the weight requirement is that those with low weight may be unable to cope with the loss of required volume for whole blood donation. However, there is no upper weight limit unless specified by the blood donation facility you choose to go to.

    Certain medication or vaccinations

    Taking specific medicines such as aspirin and birth control do not make you ineligible to donate blood. It is best to check with your healthcare provider how long you need to wait before donating blood if you are taking other medications.

    Getting immunized normally does not affect your ability to give blood, except for needing to wait with some vaccines. This includes vaccines for measles, mumps and rubella (MMR), chickenpox, live shingles, polio, yellow fever, hepatitis B, smallpox and even COVID-19 vaccines (if it is made with attenuated or weakened virus).

    Medical conditions

    Is it safe to donate blood if you have conditions? Most medical conditions do not affect blood donation.

    However, the following conditions make you ineligible for donating blood:

    • High blood pressure
    • Low blood pressure
    • Bleeding conditions
    • Cancers of the blood
    • Heart disease
    • HIV/AIDS
    • Malaria
    • Sickle cell anemia
    • Tuberculosis

    For other health conditions, you may have to consult your doctor  to find out how long you need to wait to donate blood.

    Travel outside of the country

    A history of travel to some countries wherein there are reported cases of certain infectious or contagious diseases such as malaria, Zika virus, ebola, and alike may delay or hinder your plans of donating blood depending on which disease you might have been exposed to. You would need to consult your doctor for clearance.

    Key Takeaways

    Is it safe to donate blood? Blood donation promotes better health for recipients. It is essential for community health, especially amid a pandemic that relies on the blood of persons who have recovered from COVID-19.

    However, there are certain requirements in place which make sure that it is safe to donate blood. These include weight, height and age requirements, medical conditions or treatments, among others.

    There are also healthcare professionals who are present during blood donation ensuring the safety of not only the recipient but also of the donor.

    Learn more about Medical Procedures and Surgeries here.


    Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

    Medically reviewed by

    Kristina Campos, MD

    General Practitioner

    Written by Louise Nichole Logarta · Updated Nov 09, 2021

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