We're unable to sign you in at this time. Please try again in a few minutes.
We were able to sign you in, but your subscription(s) could not be found. Please try again in a few minutes.
There may be a problem with your account. Please contact the AMA Service Center to resolve this issue.
Contact the AMA Service Center:
Telephone: 1 (800) 262-2350 or 1 (312) 670-7827  *   Email: subscriptions@jamanetwork.com
Error Message ......
JAMA Patient Page |

Blood Donation FREE

Janet M. Torpy, MD, Writer; Cassio Lynm, MA, Illustrator; Richard M. Glass, MD, Editor
JAMA. 2008;299(19):2350. doi:10.1001/jama.299.19.2350.
Text Size: A A A
Published online

Blood is a living tissue made up of blood cells, platelets, and a fluid called plasma that contains protein and a number of other components. A blood transfusion is the administration of blood or blood components directly into the bloodstream. Every year, more than 4.5 million patients need blood transfusions in the United States and Canada. Someone needs blood on an average of every 2 seconds.

The May 21, 2008, issue of JAMA includes an article about blood donations by 16- and 17-year-olds. This Patient Page is based on one published in the April 17, 2002, issue of JAMA.


  • Persons who have lost blood because of internal bleeding or severe injuries

  • Persons who lose blood during surgical procedures

  • Certain individuals with cancer, sickle cell disease, and other disorders


There are a few requirements for blood donors; however, most individuals are eligible to donate as often as every 8 weeks. To donate, you must

  • Be at least 16 or 17 years of age depending on state laws

  • Weigh at least 110 pounds

  • Be in good health

If you are taking medication, you can usually donate blood; inform the blood donation staff before you donate.


Individuals may be temporarily or permanently deferred from donating blood. Individuals who are temporarily deferred are those who have a short-term condition or circumstance under which donation is not recommended, including

  • Low blood cell count

  • During pregnancy and until 6 weeks after giving birth

  • Having received a tattoo or any body piercing within the past year

  • Recent travel to certain areas of Africa, Central or South America, Mexico, or Southeast Asia

If you are temporarily deferred, you can check with your local blood bank to find out when you can donate.

Individuals who are permanently deferred should never donate blood. Permanent deferrals in the US include

  • Anyone with a positive test for HIV

  • Having had hepatitis at age 11 years or older

  • High risk of having HIV because of injection drug use or sexual contacts

  • Anyone who has ever received clotting factor concentrates

  • Anyone who has had babesiosis or Chagas disease

  • Anyone who has spent 3 months or more in the United Kingdom from 1980 through 1996

  • Anyone who has spent 5 years or more in Europe from 1980 to the present


Give the gift of life! One pint of blood can save up to 3 lives. Less than 10% of eligible individuals actually donate annually. As a result, the blood supply nationwide often runs short, especially around holidays and during summer months.

Donating blood is safe and relatively painless. The entire process takes about 1 hour. You cannot get HIV (the virus that causes AIDS [acquired immunodeficiency syndrome]), hepatitis, or other diseases from donating blood.



To find this and previous JAMA Patient Pages, go to the Patient Page link on JAMA's Web site at http://www.jama.com. A Patient Page on blood transfusion was published in the October 6, 2004, issue.

Sources: American Association of Blood Banks, America's Blood Centers, American Red Cross

The JAMA Patient Page is a public service of JAMA. The information and recommendations appearing on this page are appropriate in most instances, but they are not a substitute for medical diagnosis. For specific information concerning your personal medical condition, JAMA suggests that you consult your physician. This page may be photocopied noncommercially by physicians and other health care professionals to share with patients. To purchase bulk reprints, call 203/259-8724.




Also Meets CME requirements for:
Browse CME for all U.S. States
Accreditation Information
The American Medical Association is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education to provide continuing medical education for physicians. The AMA designates this journal-based CME activity for a maximum of 1 AMA PRA Category 1 CreditTM per course. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity. Physicians who complete the CME course and score at least 80% correct on the quiz are eligible for AMA PRA Category 1 CreditTM.
Note: You must get at least of the answers correct to pass this quiz.
Please click the checkbox indicating that you have read the full article in order to submit your answers.
Your answers have been saved for later.
You have not filled in all the answers to complete this quiz
The following questions were not answered:
Sorry, you have unsuccessfully completed this CME quiz with a score of
The following questions were not answered correctly:
Commitment to Change (optional):
Indicate what change(s) you will implement in your practice, if any, based on this CME course.
Your quiz results:
The filled radio buttons indicate your responses. The preferred responses are highlighted
For CME Course: A Proposed Model for Initial Assessment and Management of Acute Heart Failure Syndromes
Indicate what changes(s) you will implement in your practice, if any, based on this CME course.


Spanish Patient Pages
Supplemental Content

Some tools below are only available to our subscribers or users with an online account.

0 Citations

Related Content

Customize your page view by dragging & repositioning the boxes below.

Articles Related By Topic
Related Collections
PubMed Articles