Blood: Why Give Blood in January?

  • Medical Author:
    Barbara K. Hecht, PhD

    Dr. Barbara Kaiser-McCaw Hecht is Director of Hecht Associates, Inc., consultants in Medical Genetics based in Jacksonville, Florida. Dr. Hecht is a Diplomat of the American Board of Medical Genetics both in Clinical Cytogenetic (Chromosome Genetics) and Medical Genetics (Genetic Counseling). Dr. Hecht attended Stanford University from which she received a BA and an MA in Biology.

  • Medical Editor: Frederick Hecht, MD, FAAP, FACMG
    Frederick Hecht, MD, FAAP, FACMG

    Frederick Hecht, MD, FAAP, FACMG

    Frederick Hecht, MD, lives in Scottsdale, Arizona. Dr. Hecht is a Pediatrician and Medical Geneticist and is certified by both the American Boards of Pediatrics and Medical Genetics. Dr. Hecht was born and raised in Baltimore and attended Dartmouth College in Hanover, N.H. and the Sorbonne at the University of Paris receiving his BA degree cum laude with distinction from Dartmouth.

What Kind of Doctor Do I Need? Slideshow

Who can give blood?

To be eligible to donate blood, a person must be in good health, 17 years of age (although some states permit younger people, with parental consent, to donate). Minimum weight requirements may vary, but generally, donors should weigh at least 110 pounds. Most blood banks have no upper age limit. All donors must pass the physical and health history examinations given prior to donation.

"Almost always during the holidays, we suffer a serious shortage," said Dr. Jerry Squires, chief medical officer for the American Red Cross. That is why January is National Volunteer Blood Donor Month.

Who cannot give blood?

Person who are not permitted to donate blood are as follows:

  • Anyone who has ever used intravenous drugs (illegal IV drugs)
  • Men who have had sexual contact with other men since 1977 Hemophiliacs
  • Anyone with a positive antibody test for HIV (the AIDS virus)
  • Men and women who have engaged in sex for money or drugs since 1977
  • Anyone who has had hepatitis since their eleventh birthday
  • Anyone who has or has had cancer
  • Anyone who has had babesiosis or Chagas disease
  • Anyone who has taken the drug Tegison for psoriasis
  • Anyone who has risk factors for Crueutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) or who has an immediate family member with CJD
  • Anyone who has risk factors for vCJD

How often can I donate blood?

Whole blood can be donated once every eight weeks (56 days). Two units of red blood cells can be donated at one time, using a process known as red cell apheresis. This type of donation can be made every 16 weeks.

Medically reviewed by John A. Daller, MD; American Board of Surgery with subspecialty certification in surgical critical care


The American Association of Blood Banks.
The American Red Cross.

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Reviewed on 3/15/2017

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