More than 4 million people will require a blood transfusion this year, whether because of cancer, accidents, or surgeries. There is such a high demand for blood to save lives, and a limited amount of
it. Every day, 44,000 units of blood are used to save lives across the United States. About 38% of the population in the US is able to donate blood, but only 10% donate. Many people who are 65 and older question if they can donate blood because of their age and health risks, and the answer is yes.
As long as you meet the requirements to donate blood, then you can donate. There is no such thing as “too old.”
- At least 17 years old
- Weight is at least 110 lbs
- Good health
- 8 weeks in between blood donations
You can not donate if:
- You’ve had a blood transfusion within the last year
- You are pregnant or was within the last 6 weeks
- Gotten a tattoo within the last year
- Had Hepatitis when you were 11 or older
- You have a cold, or flu
- Have HIV
- You have low iron
- You have lived in or traveled to a malaria-risk country in the past 3 years
The American Association of Blood Banks used to ban people over 65 from donating blood. In 1978 the rule was dismissed after studies showed that older people who stored blood before surgery did well. “We found over time that individuals who are older do just fine donating blood, as long as they don’t have certain medical conditions that make them ineligible,” said Dr. Ross Herron, the chief medical officer of the West division of the American Red Cross.
There are different variations to donate blood: platelet donation which is small proteins within the blood plasma, or whole blood donation. If you choose to donate, talk to your doctor and make sure you are eligible with good health. A physical will be taken to make sure your blood pressure, and pulse is good. Then the process will only take about 5-10 minutes, followed by a snack to make sure you are not lightheaded before you leave. If you want to consider donating blood or platelets, then go for it! It is something that is always in demand, and saves lives.