Medical Questions

Do you have questions or concerns about your eligibility to donate blood? Take a look through our list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ's) to see if you can find your answer. If you don't find the answer to your question below, contact our medical staff at 401-453-8307. They will be happy to assist you.

Can I donate blood if I am taking medication?

Answer: Most medications are okay for donating blood. Very few medications on their own prevent people from donating. Examples of medications that will prevent blood donations include Proscar and Avodart. Aspirin use will prevent platelets from being used for transfusion, but the red blood cells are fine for transfusion. Very little medication will be in blood given to a patient, and in an adult patient, the medication will be even more diluted.

Can donate if I have a body piercing(s)?

Answer: As long as the piercing was done by a physician, or a licensed professional, using sterile, single-use, disposable equipment or piercing gun, you can donate blood.

I had a tattoo, can I donate?

Answer: If the tattoo was done in a licensed establishment in Rhode Island, you can donate after it is clean, dry and pain free. Please call 401-453-8307 if your tattoo was done elsewhere. In general, we accept states and towns that use sterile needles and do not reuse ink.

Does my high blood pressure prevent me from donating?

Answer: As long as your blood pressure is not higher than 180/100 you can donate blood. Many people take medications to control their blood pressure and that's okay. If your blood pressure is too high when you come in to donate, we may wait a few minutes to see if it goes down to acceptable levels, and if it does you can continue the donation process.

Can I donate if I've traveled outside of the US or Canada?

Answer: There are many rules regarding travel and each one must be evaluated based on your own travel history. In general these are the rules:
Travel to a malarial risk area prevents you from donating for 12 months. We follow the Centers for Disease Control's decisions about which areas are considered malarial risk, and these can change. If you are planning to travel outside of the US, and you are eligible to donate, plan to make your donation before you leave.
Travel to or living in the United Kingdom (UK) for three months or more between 1980-1996 prevents an individual from donating.
Receiving a blood transfusion in the UK from 1980-1996, prevents an individual from donating.
Receiving bovine (cow) insulin since 1980 may prevent people from donating unless they know that the source wasn't from the UK.
Living or traveling in Europe for a period adding up to five years since 1980 prevents an individual from donating blood.
Living on a military base for six months between 1980-1990 North of the Alps, or between 1980-1996 South of the Alps, prevents people from being able to give blood.

Can I donate blood if I had a heart attack?

Answer: As long as you are feeling well one year after your heart attack, you can donate blood.

I had cancer. Can I donate?

Answer: Depending on what type of cancer it was, you may still be able to donate if the cancer has been removed or eradicated and treated. Even if you received chemotherapy or radiation, if the cancer is gone, you can donate blood one year after completing treatment. If you didn't need chemotherapy or radiation, then you may be able to donate after you have recovered from surgery.

I had surgery. Can I donate?

Answer: If you have recovered from your surgery and didn't need a transfusion, you can donate when you feel up to it. If you received your own blood, you can donate when you feel up to it. If you received a transfusion other than your own blood, you have to wait 12 months to donate.

I have diabetes. Can I donate?

Answer: Your diabetes needs to be stable for three months, but after that, as long as it is under control, whether by diet, oral medications or insulin, you can donate.

Can I donate if I take medications for cholesterol?

Answer: Most medications are okay for blood donations