Deferrals

Prospective blood donors may be unable to donate for reasons that could either compromise their own health or the safety of the blood supply. Common reasons why people may be temporarily deferred are listed below*.

This is not a comprehensive list owing to the many factors that can determine a donor's eligibility. A more comprehensive list of deferrals can be seen by going to the Detailed Eligibility Criteria & FAQs.

If you have any questions whatsoever, please contact one of our staff on 0800 GIVE BLOOD (0800 448 325).

* Deferral Criteria are subject to change.

  • Minor illness: Donors are required to feel well at the time of donation. A cold, flu or allergies may prevent someone from donating.
  • Drugs/medications: Some medications or the underlying cause for taking the medication may require a temporary deferral. If you are taking any drugs/medications and would like to give blood, please contact us for details or see Medications with deferral periods.
  • Dental work: Donors must wait at least 24 hours (and sometimes up to 7 days for uncomplicated extractions) after having dental work done, before they can give blood. The reason for this is the potential for micro-organisms to enter the blood creating the risk of septicaemia. The deferral allows such an infection to become symptomatic.
  • Low haemoglobin counts: NZBS temporarily defers blood donors whose haemoglobin test falls below the standard of 120 g/L (females) and 130 g/L (males).
  • Tattoos/body piercing: Donors must wait six months after having a tattoo or body piercing before donating blood. The reason for this temporary deferral is the increased risk of hepatitis and other infections associated with tattoos and piercing. Other similar procedures that may fall under this category include acupuncture and electrolysis.
  • Diabetes: If you have diabetes that is treated by diet you may be eligible to donate blood. It is important to note that each donor is different, and the use of certain medications or other underlying conditions may be cause for deferral. Final eligibility is determined by the staff at the donor clinic.
  • Pregnancy: You will be deferred during pregnancy and 9 months after delivery or longer if still breast feeding, until 3 months after infant weaned.
  • HIV high risk activities: Being the sexual partner of someone who has participated in high risk activities (other than the sexual partner of someone who has tested positive for HIV) will result in a deferral.
  • Exposure to disease/geographical deferrals: Travel to areas where tropical diseases are endemic, e.g. malaria, may result in a temporary deferral but this will depend on a number of factors so please call your local Donor Centre or 0800 GIVE BLOOD (0800 448 325) and discuss with our Donor Staff.
  • Recent major surgery: If you have had surgery recently, please speak to your local blood centre regarding your eligibility.
  • Recent vaccinations: A few vaccinations may result in a temporary deferral. Please note that this information is subject to change. Final eligibility is determined by the staff at the donor clinic.
  • Residency in UK, France or Ireland: You must not have lived in the United Kingdom, France or the Republic of Ireland between 1980 and 1996 for a cumulative period of 6 months or more.
  • Male to male sexual activity: You must not give blood for FIVE YEARS: Following oral or anal sex with or without a condom with another man (if you are male). More information is available at The Independent expert review of the NZBS behavioural donor criteria page.

To save a wasted visit, please check with the Blood Service if (since your last donation) you have:

  • Had an operation
  • Had a tattoo or body piercing
  • Been overseas
  • Had a course of antibiotics or are currently taking medication
  • Become pregnant

If you are deferred, please don't take the deferral personally. We are just trying to protect you and patients who may receive your blood from suffering any adverse effects from the donation. Talk to us about other ways you can help, like becoming a volunteer!

To ensure the safety of blood supplied by the New Zealand Blood Service to patients in New Zealand, it is important that all blood donors are in good health. This ensures the donor is protected against problems to his/her own health and that the recipient is protected against transmission of disease, drugs or contaminated products that would be detrimental to their health.

Common reasons for not collecting a blood donation
Information for deferred donors (pdf, 53 KB)

You may need to download Adobe Reader to view the PDF files. It is available free from the Adobe site (external link) .

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