Detailed eligibility criteria

A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z

A

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Antibiotics - I am taking antibiotics. Can I donate?

If antibiotics are taken for the treatment of an existing infection, the condition must be fully resolved and the antibiotics completed 1 week before donating.

If in doubt, please call your local Donor Centre or 0800 GIVE BLOOD (0800 448 325) and ask to speak to a nurse.

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Anti-inflammatory Medications. Can I donate?

Please call your local Donor Centre or 0800 GIVE BLOOD (0800 448 325) and ask to speak to a nurse to check if you can donate.

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Accidents -– I was involved in an accident and had stitches or other treatment. Can I donate?

After minor injuries we ask donors to wait one month from recovery.

After moderate or severe injuries the waiting time is 3 or 6 months, respectively.

If you received a blood transfusion it will be necessary to wait 12 months.

If  your injuries did not require medical attention (minor cuts, scratches and grazes) we ask donors to wait one week from recovery.

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Acne -– I have active acne. Can I donate?

If you have active or infected acne it will be necessary to wait until it has settled or been treated effectively.

If treated with Isotretinoin (Roaccutane), Tretinoin (Retin A) or Adapalene (Differin), you will need to wait 4 weeks from your last dose.

If you are being treated with antibiotics you will need to wait one week from completing treatment

Please call your local Donor Centre  or 0800 GIVE BLOOD (0800 448 325) and speak to a nurse if you have any questions.

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Acupuncture - I have just had acupuncture. Can I donate?

Yes, 12 hours or more after the treatment, as long as only sterile single-use (disposable) equipment was used, there is no inflammation present at the site, and the treatment was provided by one of the following:

  • staff in a hospital, or a doctor, or
  • an acupuncturist who is a member of the NZRA or NZASA, or
  • an acupuncturist who is listed on an NZ Blood Service approved register of acupuncturists.

If sterile single-use (disposable) equipment was not used, or you are unsure if it was used; or the treatment was given by a person who is not listed above, you will not be able to donate for 6 months after the last acupuncture procedure.

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Addiction –drugs. Can I donate if I have ever injected or taken drugs?

If you have injected drugs that were not prescribed by a doctor you cannot give blood now or at any time in the future.

Any person who is under the influence of drugs or alcohol cannot donate blood because the drug may affect ability to understand and answer the donor questionnaire and declaration, and to tolerate 470mL blood withdrawal.

If you have any other question concerning drugs, please call your local Donor Centre or 0800 GIVE BLOOD (0800 448 325) and ask to speak to a nurse.

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Age - How does age affect my ability to donate?

Whole blood donors (regular donors)

New donors can start donating blood from their 16th birthday up to their 66th birthday.

  • NZ Blood Service asks people aged 16-17 to check with your parent/guardian before starting to donate blood.
  • New donors aged under 25 years of age will also need to meet the height and weight criteria

Existing whole blood donors can continue donating blood up to their 71st birthday.

  • If you wish to continue donating blood after your 71st birthday, your health will be assessed annually by an NZBS Medical Officer.

Whole blood donors are required to retire when they turn 76.

Apheresis donors (plasma or platelet donors)

Apheresis is a special collection procedure in which blood is processed in a cell separator machine. Some components are separated as the ‘donation’ and others are returned to the donor. The donor’s blood only comes into contact with sterile single use disposable materials. In NZ apheresis involves collecting either plasma (the liquid part of blood) or platelets plus some plasma.

Provided they meet apheresis donor selection criteria and have given at least one whole blood donation in the last two years, existing whole blood donors are eligible to start donating by apheresis from their 18th to their 61st birthday.

Existing apheresis donors can continue to donate by apheresis up to their 66th birthday.

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Alcohol - I had several alcoholic drinks before going to give blood. Can I donate?

NZ Blood Service does not take blood from anyone under the influence of alcohol because intoxication can affect ability to understand and answer the donor questionnaire and declaration, and to tolerate 470mL blood withdrawal.

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Allergy - I am allergic to one of the following: dust / a food / a medicine / an insect sting / other. Can I donate?

If you have mild hay fever or other mild allergy to a food or environmental substance, you may donate. Taking a medicine to control symptoms will not affect your ability to donate.

If you have moderate symptoms from an acute allergic reaction at present, you will need to wait until symptoms have settled and a further deferral of between one week - one month may be necessary. Please call you your local Donor Centre or 0800 GIVE BLOOD (0800 448 325) and ask to speak with a nurse.

A moderately severe allergic reaction in the past will require you to wait for one year from the last event. After a moderate allergic reaction to a medicine you will need to wait for one year before donating.

After a severe allergic reaction or anaphylaxis you will not be able to donate for a minimum of ten years.

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Anaemia - I have been anaemic. Can I donate?

If the anaemia has been treated effectively and the finger prick test carried out before giving blood shows that your haemoglobin is in the acceptable range, you will be able to donate.

If you are having medical investigations for anaemia or receiving treatment for anaemia, it will be necessary to wait until both investigations and treatment are completed, and possibly for a further six month period.

Presence of persistent anaemia and some specific types of anaemia, such as pernicious anaemia, may results in permanent deferral from giving blood.

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Angioplasty -– I have had an angioplasty. Can I donate?

Although your previous symptoms which required an angioplasty may have settled, it is not possible for you to give blood in the future as you may not be able to tolerate 470mL blood withdrawal.

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Antibiotics - I am taking antibiotics. Can I donate?

If antibiotics are taken for the treatment of an existing infection, the condition must be fully resolved and the antibiotics completed 1 week before donating.

In cases where an antibiotic is being taken in the absence of existing infection, a donation may be collected for restricted use as long as the donor is well.

If in doubt, call your local Donor Centre or 0800 GIVE BLOOD (0800 448 325) and ask to speak with a nurse.

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Antidepressants - I take an antidepressant. Can I donate?

Taking an antidepressant is generally not a cause for deferral as long as you are physically well. However, if you are taking a high dose we may need to check your eligibility to donate.

Please call your local Donor Centre or 0800 GIVE BLOOD (0800 448 325) and ask to speak with a nurse.

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Arrhythmia -– I have abnormal heart beats or I am being treated for an abnormal heart beat. Can I donate?

If you have had abnormal heart beats, the Blood Service Medical Officer will review your condition.

If your condition requires ongoing treatment it will not be possible for you to give blood donations.

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Arthritis -– I have arthritis. Can I donate?

Osteoarthritis that is under good control will not affect your ability to give blood donations. If symptoms are severe you may be asked to wait for three months.

If your diagnosis is Rheumatoid Arthritis that is active or requires treatment you will not be able to give blood donations.

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Asthma -– I have asthma. Can I donate?

If you have mild asthma and require only occasional use of inhalers, or you are on a regular preventative treatment programme with inhalers and do not have active symptoms at the time, you can donate.

If you have active symptoms you will need to wait one month before donating.

If you have severe asthma it will not be possible for you to donate blood.

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B

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Bleeding disorder -– I have been diagnosed with a bleeding condition/disorder. Can I donate?

Our Medical Officer will review your condition. Most bleeding disorders will result in permanent deferral from giving blood donations.

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Blood borne diseases - what is tested for?

Hepatitis B and C, syphillis, HIV (AIDS) on all donations.

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Blood pressure - I take high blood pressure medicine. Can I donate?

Medicines for the control of blood pressure are acceptable, providing your blood pressure is adequately controlled and stable, and you have not had low blood pressure when standing.

If you are taking a beta blocker medicine you will not be able to give a donation until you have been taking the medicine for 4 weeks without any problems, your pulse is over 60/minute and your blood pressure is in the range 100-160/(70 or higher). We will check these before you donate.

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Blood transfusion - I have had a blood transfusion. Can I donate?

If you have had a blood transfusion, the waiting period before you can give blood is 12 months.

If you received only autologous blood (that is, you donated prior to a procedure and were transfused with your only own blood), then you are able to continue donating with a letter from your doctor verifying that the only blood transfused was your own blood.

If you had a blood transfusion in the UK, Ireland or France since 1980 then you are permanently deferred from donating.

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Blood volume - What is the volume of blood in a person's body?

It varies little according to weight and sex, but for a 70kg person it is about 5 litres, or 10 pints (70mL per kilo body weight).

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Body piercing - I have just had a part of my body pierced. Can I donate?

If you have just had your ears or any other part of your body pierced and this was performed with clean, single use (disposable) equipment by a registered health professional (e.g. a Pharmacist, GP, Dentist, etc.) and any inflammation has settled completely, you can donate blood now.

If the piercing was performed by any other person you will need to wait for 6 months.

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Breast-feeding - I am breast-feeding. Can I donate?

It is not advisable to donate blood while breast-feeding. Following childbirth, the deferral period is at least 9 months (as for pregnancy) and until 3 months after your baby is significantly weaned (i.e. getting most of his/her nutrition from solids or bottle feeding).

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C

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Cancer - I had cancer. Can I donate?

A person who has had an adequately treated skin cancer (squamous cell cancer or basal cell cancer) and has no recurrence of the cancer, can donate.

If you have a solid tumour (not leukaemia or lymphoma) which has been successfully treated and proved to be clear of disease for at least five years - you may donate.

A person who has had cervical cancer-in-situ may give blood and apheresis donations.

Please call your local Donor Centre  or 0800 GIVE BLOOD (0800 448 325) and ask to speak with a nurse if you have any queries about eligibility.

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Chickenpox - I have chickenpox. Can I donate?

You can donate 4 weeks after a complete and full recovery.

When all your spots are completely clean and dry, NZ Blood Service may be able to use your plasma to provide valuable antibodies to treat people at risk of infection from chickenpox. If you live near one of our main Donor Centres, please tell us about your chickenpox infection as soon as possible as we may wish to arrange special tests to check your chickenpox antibody level. Please call your local Donor Centre or 0800 GIVE BLOOD (0800 448 325) and ask to speak with a nurse.

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Childbirth - How long after the birth of my baby. Can I donate?

At least 9 months after the birth, but if you are still breast-feeding at this time, you will need to wait until 3 months after your baby is significantly weaned. See also breast-feeding.

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Cholecystectomy -– I have had my gall bladder removed. Can I donate?

You must be fully recovered from the surgery. You will need to wait a minimum of three months after a laparoscopic procedure or six months after an open surgery procedure.

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Cholecystitis - I have had cholecystitis recently. Can I donate?

You will need to wait for 4 weeks from complete recovery and after completing antibiotic treatment.

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Cholesterol - I take medication for cholesterol reduction. Can I donate?

Cholesterol-lowering medication prescribed to prevent coronary artery disease does not affect your eligibility to donate. However, people who have angina or other symptoms of existing coronary artery disease must not donate blood for personal safety reasons.

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Chronic fatigue syndrome - I have/had chronic fatigue syndrome. Can I donate?

People with a diagnosis of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome are permanently deferred from donating blood in New Zealand.

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Coeliac disease -– I have coeliac disease. Can I donate?

If your condition is treated by diet alone and you are well, you may give blood donations. If you require other medical treatment this will be discussed with our Medical Officer but is likely to lead to permanent deferral from giving blood.

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Cold sores - Can I donate if I have a cold sore?

You cannot donate if the cold sore is still active, but once it is clean and dry, or healed, you can donate blood.

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Colds - I have a cold. Can I donate?

For your safety and for the safety of the people who receive your blood, you should not donate until 1 week after you are fully recovered and feeling fit and well.

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Concussion -– I was knocked unconscious. Can I donate?

We will need to discuss the circumstances of the accident with you.

In general, if you are fully recovered, have been discharged from medical follow up and are off all medicines, you will be able to give blood donations.

If you have not fully recovered, we recommend waiting three months from full recovery.

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Condoms - What if I use condoms every time?

Condoms reduce the risk, but there is always a very small risk, if the condom breaks or is not used properly, of transmission.

The relative risk of HIV transmission is much higher with a transfusion of infected blood than with sexual intercourse with an infected partner.

This justifies a more stringent approach to risk reduction for transfusion.

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Conjunctivitis -– I have conjunctivitis. Can I donate?

If the conjunctivitis is due to an allergy – see Allergy above.

If conjunctivitis is due to infection. You will need to wait for one week after the condition is fully settled and you are off antibiotics.

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Contraceptive pill - I take birth control pills. Can I donate?

Yes. Taking birth control pills (oral contraceptives) has no effect on your ability to donate blood and the action of the contraceptive pill is not affected.

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Corneal Graft –corneal transplant - I have had a corneal transplant. Can I donate?

After receiving a corneal transplant it is not possible to give blood donations. This requirement exists as rare cases of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease have occurred overseas after corneal grafting.

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Correctional institutions - Why doesn't the NZ Blood Service collect blood from inmates of correctional institutions?

The reason for this restriction is that the risk of getting hepatitis B and hepatitis C infections is much higher in the prison populations compared to the general community.

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Crohn’s Disease –- I have crohn’s disease. Can I donate?

It will not be possible for you to give blood donations if you have Crohn’s Disease. The cause of this condition is not yet certain and giving blood may adversely affect your health.

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Cystitis -– I have had cystitis recently. Can I donate?

We will ask you to wait for one week from full recovery and after your last dose of antibiotic treatment.

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Cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection -– I have been diagnosed with cytomegalovirus infection. Can I donate?

After cytomegalovirus infection we will ask you to wait for six months from full recovery before donating blood.

If you have any other underlying health problem which caused more severe cytomegalovirus infection than usual, this may affect whether or not you can give blood donations again.

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D

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Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) –- I have had a deep vein thrombosis in a leg. Can I donate?

If the DVT occurred as an isolated episode we will ask you to wait for three months until completely recovered and off all anticoagulant treatment.

If you have had repeat episodes of DVT, it will not be possible for you to give blood.

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Dengue fever - I had dengue fever. Can I donate?

You can donate blood 4 weeks after recovery from dengue fever.

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Dental treatment - I have just been to the dentist. Can I donate?

After treatments such as cleaning, fillings and braces, we can collect a donation on the next day.

For uncomplicated extractions it will be necessary to put off donating for 1 week and after complex surgery for 1 month.

Please call your local Donor Centre or 0800 GIVE BLOOD (0800 448 325) and ask to speak with a nurse about limitations that apply for other treatments.

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Depression -– I am being treated for depression. Can I donate?

Many people with mild or stable depression on treatment will be able to give blood donations.

If the depression is more severe, we will ask you to wait for six months before donating.

If you are taking Lithium or are moderately or severely unwell with depression we will not be able to collect blood donations. Depression symptoms that are under good control with other medication will not prevent you donating blood.

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Dermatitis -– I have dermatitis. Can I donate?

We will ask about your medical history to obtain more information about your condition.

If the area affected is small and is being treated with only an ointment or a cream, and the venepuncture site at the elbow is not affected, you will be able to give blood. Otherwise we may ask you to wait until the condition is settled.

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Diabetes - I am diabetic. Can I donate?

If you have no complications from your diabetes such as eye, blood vessel related or kidney problems and your diabetes is well controlled through diet or oral medication, you will be able to donate.

If you require insulin to control your diabetes you will not be able to donate.

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Diarrhoea - I have diarrhoea. Can I donate?

If you have had one of the following infections you will not be able to donate whole blood for 12 weeks from full recovery: Yersinia, Campylobacter, Salmonella, Shigella.

However, we may be able to use plasma (the liquid in blood) but not the red cells from your whole blood donation, during the 12 week period.

If the cause of the diarrhoea has not been identified and it lasted for –

  • less than 24 hours, you will be able to donate after 1 week if you remain in good health through that period,
  • 24 hours or longer, you will be able to donate after 4 weeks if you remain in good health through that period.

Contacts: If someone in your household or a close social contact has had diarrhoea:

  • A donation can be used to provide plasma one week after your last contact with any person who has diarrhoea. We will not be able to use the red cells from your donation for 4 weeks.

If you have any queries about your symptoms and eligibility please call your local Donor Centre or 0800 GIVE BLOOD (0800 448 325) and ask to speak with a nurse.

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Disability -– I have a physical disability. Can I donate?

Donors must be able to climb onto the donation beds and be able to straighten out the elbow fully so that a blood donation can be collected. We will also need to discuss the underlying cause of your disability as this may affect your ability to donate if due to some medical conditions.

Please call your local Donor Centre or 0800 GIVE BLOOD (0800 448 325) and ask to speak with a nurse.

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Diverticulitis/diverticulosis -– I have diverticulitis or diverticulosis. Can I donate?

If you are well and have had no recent symptoms of the condition you may donate.

If you have symptoms it will be necessary to wait for a minimum of one month after the symptoms have settled before donating.

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Drug use (recreational) - Can I still donate blood even if I have taken recreational drugs?

This will depend on what drug was taken and how and when it was taken. If you have ever used intravenous (IV or injected) drugs not prescribed by a registered medical practitioner, even once, you will not be able to give a blood donation and you will be permanently deferred.

Any person who is intoxicated with a drug or alcohol will not be able to donate as intoxication can affect the ability to understand and answer the donor questionnaire and declaration, and to tolerate 470mL blood withdrawal.

NZ Blood Service values the privacy of donors. All interviews are conducted in private and donor confidentiality is always maintained.

Please call your local Donor Centre or 0800 GIVE BLOOD (0800 448 325) and ask to speak with a nurse if more information is needed.

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E

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Ear piercing - I have just had my ears pierced. Can I still donate blood?

If you have just had your ears or any other part of your body pierced and this was performed with clean, single use (disposable) equipment by a registered health professional (e.g. a Pharmacist, GP, Dentist, etc) and any inflammation has settled completely, you can donate blood now. If the piercing was performed by any other person you will need to wait for 6 months.

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Eczema –- I have eczema. Can I donate?

If the affected area is small and the venepuncture site at the front of the elbow is not affected and only an ointment or cream treatment is used, you will be able to donate. We will need to discuss your medical condition to confirm the diagnosis.

If you have severe eczema our Medical Officer will need to review your condition.

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Endometriosis -– I have endometriosis. Can I donate?

If the endometriosis has settled and you have no symptoms you may donate. This applies if you are on hormone replacement treatment to control endometriosis.

If you have been treated with Danazol we will ask you to wait for three months before donating. Our Medical Officer will also review your condition.

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Endoscopy -– I had an endoscopy. Can I donate?

If the endoscopy was done using a rigid endoscope, and you are now well and not needing any treatment or follow up with your doctor, you may be able to donate.

Flexible endoscopes are difficult to sterilise. If your endoscopy was done using a flexible endoscope you will have to wait for six months from the time of the procedure before you can donate (if all other criteria are met also).

If you have any queries you should call your local Donor Centre or 0800 GIVE BLOOD (0800 448 325) and ask to speak with a nurse to discuss your situation.

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Epilepsy -– I have/had had epilepsy. Can I donate?

If you have had no fits for five years, even if on medication, you may be able to donate. Staff will need to discuss your condition with you. If you have had fits in the past three years you will not be able to donate.

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Eye drops -– I am using eye drop medicines. Can I donate?

If you are taking a beta blocker medicine to treat glaucoma and have been taking this treatment for 4 weeks without any adverse symptoms, and your blood pressure is satisfactory, you will be able to donate. Our staff will need to review your condition.

If you are receiving antibiotics for an infection we will ask you to wait until seven days after the infection has settled and the antibiotic treatment completed.

If you are using other medicine eye drops, including for allergy, you may donate.

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F

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Fibromyalgia - I have been diagnosed with fibromyalgia. Can I donate?

Because the term fibromyalgia describes a variety of conditions you should call your local Donor Centre or 0800 GIVE BLOOD (0800 448 325) and ask to speak with a nurse to discuss your condition.

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Food poisoning -– see diarrhoea

If you have had one of the following infections you will not be able to donate whole blood for 12 weeks from full recovery: Yersinia, Campylobacter, Salmonella, Shigella.

However, we may be able to use plasma (the liquid in blood) but not the red cells from your whole blood donation, during the 12 week period.

If the cause of the diarrhoea has not been identified and it lasted for:

  • less than 24 hours, you will be able to donate after 1 week if you remain in good health through that period,
  • 24 hours or longer, you will be able to donate after 4 weeks if you remain in good health through that period.

Contacts: If someone in your household or a close social contact has had diarrhoea:

  • A donation can be used to provide plasma one week after your last contact with any person who has diarrhoea. We will not be able to use the red cells from your donation for 4 weeks,

If you have any queries about your symptoms and eligibility please call your local Donor Centre or 0800 GIVE BLOOD (0800 448 325) and ask to speak with a nurse.

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Fractures - I have been treated for a fracture recently. Can I donate?

If the fracture was minor we will ask you to wait one month before donating.

If you had a moderate or severe fracture involving limb or other bones, we will ask you to wait for 3-6 months depending on the nature of the injury.

If you have been discharged from follow up you will usually be able to donate. Please call your local Donor Centre or 0800 GIVE BLOOD (0800 448 325) and ask to speak with a nurse for further information.

If you received a blood transfusion you will need to wait for twelve months.

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Fungal infection -– I have a fungal infection in my skin (foot or elsewhere). Can I donate?

If the infection is being treated with a topical ointment or cream and there is no local inflammation you will be able to donate.

If you are taking tablets for treatment we will ask you to wait until seven days after completing the treatment.

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Gall bladder

Gall bladder –- see cholecystitis / cholecystectomy

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German measles –- see rubella infection

We will ask you to wait 4 weeks from full recovery from this infection as a clearance of the virus is known to be delayed.

If you have had had contact with a person with rubella and have had rubella previously there is no waiting period before giving blood.

If you have had contact with rubella but have not had previously had this infection, we will ask you to wait 4 weeks until the infection incubation period has elapsed.

If you have had rubella vaccination you must wait 8 weeks from the date of vaccination before donating to ensure the vaccine virus has been fully cleared.

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Gilbert’s disease -– I have been told I have gilbert’s disease. Can I donate?

Gilbert’s disease is a minor variation of normal that results in an increased level of bilirubin in blood. This condition does not affect giving blood donations.

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Glandular fever - I have (or have had) glandular fever (also called infectious mononucleosis). Can I donate?

Glandular fever is caused by Epstein-Barr virus (EBV). You will not be able to donate for 6 months after you have recovered from glandular fever.

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Glaucoma -– see eye drops

If you are taking a beta blocker medicine to treat glaucoma and have been taking this treatment for 4 weeks without any adverse symptoms, and your blood pressure is satisfactory, you will be able to donate. Our staff will need to review your condition.

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Gonorrhoea

Gonorrhoea –- see Sexually Transmitted Infection

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Gout –- I have had attacks of gout. Can I donate?

If you are mildly affected and/or are on tablets for treatment, you may donate.

If you have an acute attack of gout or acute attacks are frequent, we will ask you to wait 2 weeks before donating.

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H

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Haemachromatosis -– I have haemachromatosis (iron overload disease). Can I donate?

Our Medical Officer will need to review your condition. You may be able to donate and if so, will be able to give frequent donations at 1-4 week intervals to bring your iron overload under control.

Please discuss with our Medical Officer. You should obtain a referral note from your General Practitioner that provides information about the diagnosis, liver function tests and your current iron status, to assist the review.

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Haemorrhoids -– see piles/haemorrhoids

If your piles / haemorrhoids are not causing symptoms or produce symptoms infrequently, you may donate.

If regular or severe bleeding is present, we ask you to wait for one month after the last episode.

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Hay fever -– I have hay fever,– either persistently or just at some times of the year. Can I donate?

If your hay fever symptoms are mild, with or without regular treatment, you may donate.

If you have moderate or severe symptoms we will ask you to wait until one month after the symptoms have settled or been brought under control.

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Hazardous occupations -– I am an aircraft or glider pilot / bus or train driver / crane operator / fireman / air traffic controller / police driver / diver, or involved with climbing ladders or scaffolding. Can I donate?

If you are involved with any of the activities listed above, we will ask you to not donate if on duty or within one day of going on duty, or taking part in the activity.

In the case of commercial pilots we recommend 7 days before going on duty.

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Heart attack - I had a heart attack but I am doing well now. Can I donate?

To protect your health and safety, NZ Blood Service is unable to accept you as a blood donor now, or in the future.

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Hepatitis - I had hepatitis. Can I donate?

Hepatitis means inflammation of the liver. It can be caused by infection (such as the viruses hepatitis A, B or C), or by an unknown cause. You cannot donate until 12 months after full recovery.

Hepatitis -– my friend or family member has had hepatitis. Can I donate?
This will depend on the type of hepatitis. Please call your local Donor Centre or 0800 GIVE BLOOD (0800 448 325) and ask to speak with a nurse if you need more information.

Hepatitis - my partner has had hepatitis. Can I donate?
You can donate 12 months after your last sexual contact with a person who has hepatitis, or 12 months after the person has fully recovered.

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Herpes - I have genital herpes. Can I donate?

Yes, provided you are not currently suffering an episode with sores. Any recent sores must be clean and dry.

You may donate between episodes.

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Homosexual men - can homosexual men donate blood in New Zealand?

Deferrals for sexual behaviour are based on what you do or have done and not on sexual orientation.

Since March 2009 the criteria has been: 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).

NZ Blood Service has recently done a review on the behavioural donor deferral criteria. The full report can be seen on the website here.

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Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) – I am taking hormone replacement therapy. Can I donate?

If you are taking hormone replacement therapy for menopausal symptoms you may donate.

If you are taking hormone replacement therapy for any other reason you will need to discuss the condition with our Staff. Please call your local Donor Centre or 0800 GIVE BLOOD (0800 448 325) and ask to speak with a nurse if you need more information.

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How long - does it take to replace a unit of blood (470mls)?

It takes just 24 - 28 hours to replace the volume, but approximately 6 weeks to replace the red blood cells.

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How long - does the donated blood last?

  • The red cell component can be kept chilled just for 35 days
  • Plasma can be stored for up to 2 years if frozen
  • Platelets last just 5 days and must be 'rocked' constantly to keep them alive.

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How much blood do they take?

A single unit of blood is about 470mL, that's about 8% of your total blood. The body manufactures blood constantly and will soon replace the donated blood without any ill effects.

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How much blood is needed in New Zealand?

Every week, we need to collect approx 3,000 whole blood donations to meet the needs of hospital patients and users of blood products throughout New Zealand. That's around 147,000 whole blood units each year.

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How often can I donate blood?

Donors may donate whole blood up to four times a year with a gap of at least 12 weeks in between donations.

Apheresis donors may donate plasma or platelets every two weeks to a maximum of 23 times per year.

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HTLV - What does HTLV stand for?

Human T Cell Lymphotrophic Virus.

This virus is rare in NZ but more common in some overseas countries. It can infect some white blood cells and other tissues. The virus sometimes causes a leukaemia or serious deterioration of the spinal cord. A test for this virus infection is carried out on new donors as a precautionary step.

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Hypoglycaemia - I have been told I am hypoglycaemic. Can I donate?

Hypoglycaemia means ‘low blood sugar’. There are many reasons for low blood sugar and an important one is from treatment of diabetes. If you have symptoms of hypoglycaemia that is not related to diabetes or other serious illness, you can donate provided that you have eaten properly within 2 hours prior to donating. As with all donors, you should also drink plenty of fluids both before and after donation.

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Infection – I have an infection. Can I donate?

You will need to discuss the infection with our Staff. For most infections acquired in the community we will ask you to wait until 7 days after full recovery and after stopping antibiotic treatment, if used.

In the case of some infections we will ask you to wait for longer, e.g. rubella 4 weeks, and after cytomegalovirus (CMV) or glandular fever (EBV), we will ask you to wait for 6 months.

Chronic virus infections such as chronic hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV will prevent you from giving blood. If in doubt, please discuss with our Staff.

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Iron –- Can I donate if I take iron tablets or health supplements?

If a person has low iron levels in the body it is not appropriate for them to donate blood. If iron tablets have been prescribed by your doctor, you will be referred to the medical officer for a decision on when you can next give blood.

See also Anaemia.

Vitamin tablets taken as a dietary supplement are OK.

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Irritable bowel syndrome – I have irritable bowel syndrome. Can I donate?

If you are well at present and have had no symptoms in the past month you may donate.

Our Staff will discuss whether or not you may have ulcerative colitis or other inflammatory bowel disease such as Crohn’s Disease.

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Leukaemia or lymphoma - I had leukaemia or lymphoma. Can I donate?

No, people with a history of leukaemia or lymphoma are permanently unable to donate blood.

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Liposuction – I have had liposuction. Can I donate?

We will ask you wait for one month after liposuction and full recovery, before donating.

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Lived in the UK - can I donate blood if I have lived in the UK, France or the Republic of Ireland?

If you lived in the UK, France or the Republic of Ireland for a total of six months or more between 1980 and 1996 then unfortunately you will be permanently deferred from donating blood in New Zealand.

This is because of CJD and vCJD – the human form of “mad cow disease”. We simply do not know enough about these conditions and how they are spread. At present there are no tests available to detect these conditions in blood donations. As a result, New Zealand and many other countries have introduced this criteria. People who have visited or lived for 6 months or more between 1980 and 1996 in the UK, France or the Republic of Ireland where there may be an increased risk of acquiring vCJD may not give blood donations. The same applies to people who have received transfusions in these countries since 1980. For more information click here.

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Liver function - I have been told by the NZ Blood Service in the past that my ALT (liver function test) was too high for me to donate. If my ALT is back to normal, am I OK to donate?

Our current guidelines state that as long as your doctor has excluded any important ongoing liver disease we can accept you back as a blood donor.

Please call your local Donor Centre or 0800 GIVE BLOOD (0800 448 325) and ask to speak with a nurse if you need more information.

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Lyme disease - I have had lyme disease. Can I donate?

Lyme disease is caused by bites of certain species of ticks. You are eligible to donate 6 months after you have recovered fully and are certified fit by your doctor.

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Medications - What prescribed medications will defer someone from donating?

Most prescribed medicines do not defer someone from donating, however, the underlying condition for which the medicine has been prescribed may affect eligibility to donate. Some medicines that must not be given to pregnant women and new-born babies, for example Roaccutane (for the treatment of acne) and Neotigason (for the treatment of psoriasis) and Acetretin (for acne or psoriasis). If you are taking any of these medications you will be deferred whilst taking the medication and for a certain time afterwards to ensure it does not remain in your blood.

Please call your local Donor Centre or 0800 GIVE BLOOD (0800 448) and ask to speak with a nurse if you have any queries about medications.

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Menstruation - I am having my period. Can I donate?

Menstruation does not affect the ability of most women to donate.

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Miscarriage or stillbirth – I have had a miscarriage. Can I donate?

After having had a miscarriage or termination of pregnancy, we will ask you to wait for a period related to the duration of the pregnancy. The interval is determined from the likely iron loss associated with the pregnancy.

  • Up to 12 weeks of pregnancy, wait 3 months.
  • Between 12-24 weeks, wait 6 months.
  • Occurring after 24 weeks, wait 9 months.

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Multiple sclerosis - I have multiple sclerosis (MS). Can I donate?

No. To protect your health and safety, and because the nature of this condition is still uncertain, NZ Blood Service is unable to accept you as a blood donor.

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Occupation risk

Occupation risk – see Hazardous occupation

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Operations

Operations – see surgery

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Osteoporosis - I have had a bone density scan confirming I have osteoporosis. Can I donate?

If you have been diagnosed as having osteoporosis you will only be eligible to donate whole blood or plasma by apheresis.

Currently there are unresolved concerns surrounding the collection of platelets by apheresis and the effect on bone density of people with osteoporosis. As a precautionary measure (to ensure your health), you will be unable to donate platelets by apheresis. If you have more queries, please call your local Donor Centre or 0800 GIVE BLOOD (0800 448 325) and ask to speak with a nurse.

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Pain - I don't like needles - it must hurt?

The finger prick, during the preliminary interview process is usually the only discomfort encountered by a blood donor.

Most donors don't mind the slight discomfort - after all it saves lives.

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Painkillers. Can i donate?

Please call your local Donor Centre  or 0800 GIVE BLOOD (0800 448 325) and ask to speak with a nurse to find out if you are eligible.

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Parkinson’s Disease – I have Parkinson’s disease. Can I donate?

Unfortunately you will not be able to give blood donations. This requirement exists because of the stiffness and mobility problems that develop with Parkinson’s Disease and affect collection of blood donations or may create a risk after giving blood.

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Payment - Does the NZ Blood Service pay donors for donations?

No. NZ Blood Service receives only voluntary donations of blood. This is in keeping with international World Health Organisation and Red Cross policy that encourages the concept of voluntary non-remunerated blood donation to support a safe blood supply.

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Piercings –- ears and other parts of the body: I have just had a piercing. Can I donate?

If you have just had your ears or any other part of your body pierced and this was performed with clean, single use (disposable) equipment by a registered health professional (e.g. a Pharmacist, GP, Dentist, etc) and any inflammation has settled completely, you can donate blood now. If the piercing was performed by any other person you will need to wait for 6 months.

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Piles /haemorrhoids – I have piles / haemorrhoids. Can I donate?

If your piles / haemorrhoids are not causing symptoms or produce symptoms infrequently, you may donate. If regular or severe bleeding is present, we ask you to wait for one month after the last episode.

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Plasma - What is it used for?

Plasma is the yellow liquid portion of blood, containing mainly water and proteins. Plasma is used to replace the proteins if there is a deficiency. Some of these proteins make our blood clot, some protect us from infection. Proteins also help to keep the fluid in our blood vessels.

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Platelets - What are they used for?

Platelets help to stop bleeding by plugging the wound and are used to treat patients with low platelets and bleeding.

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Pneumonia – I have had pneumonia recently. When can I donate?

If you are fully recovered and no underlying medical or related condition caused the pneumonia, we will ask you to wait until 3 months after full recovery and completion of antibiotic treatment.

If you have any other underlying medical condition, this will need to be discussed with our Medical Officer.

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Pneumothorax – I have had a pneumothorax. Can I donate?

If the pneumothorax was spontaneous and not due to emphysema, you will be able to donate after full recovery. If you had a traumatic pneumothorax and do not have emphysema, you will be able to donate 3 months after the injury and complete recovery.

If you have a pneumothorax and emphysema it will not be possible for to give blood donations again.

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Polycythaemia (rubra) vera - I have polycythaemia (rubra) vera. Can I donate?

Polycythaemia (rubra) vera is a disease of the bone marrow causing over-production of red blood cells. One of the treatments for this condition is regular removal of blood (venesection) and your doctor may have even referred you to the NZ Blood Service for venesection. Due to the underlying condition affecting your bone marrow, your donation cannot be used for transfusion.

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Pregnancy - I am pregnant. Can I donate?

Blood donations are not collected from a pregnant woman to avoid any stresses on the mother's or baby's circulation, or on the mother’s iron levels. After childbirth a woman should wait for a further 9 months to allow adequate time for iron stores to be built up. This is extended if a woman is breastfeeding. See also breast-feeding.

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Psoriasis – I have psoriasis. Can I donate?

If the psoriasis is mild and you are not taking any tablet treatment, and the condition does not affect the front of the elbow at the site used to insert the blood collection needle, you will be able to give blood.

If you have more severe or generalised psoriasis or are taking oral medicines to treat the condition, we will ask you to wait for one month after treatment is completed and symptoms reduced to a mild level.

In the case of some medicines, a longer waiting period may be required. Please call your local Donor Centre  or 0800 GIVE BLOOD (0800 448 325) and ask to speak with a nurse to find out if you are eligible.

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Red blood cells - what are they used for?

Red cells contain haemoglobin that carries oxygen through the body. They are transfused to patients who are very anaemic or have lost a large amount of blood following an accident or during surgery.

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Rheumatoid arthritis -– I have been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis – see arthritis

If your diagnosis is Rheumatoid Arthritis and it is being treated only with medicines called “Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agent” or aspirin you will be able to give blood donations. If you are being treated with steroids and other medicines you will not be able to give blood donations again.

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Rubella infection -– I have recently had rubella. When can I donate?

We will ask you to wait 4 weeks from full recovery from this infection as a clearance of the virus is known to be delayed.

If you have had had contact with a person with rubella and have had rubella previously there is no waiting period before giving blood.

If you have had contact with rubella but have not had previously had this infection, we will ask you to wait 4 weeks until the infection incubation period has elapsed.

If you have had rubella vaccination you must wait 8 weeks from the date of vaccination before donating to ensure the vaccine virus has been fully cleared.

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Safety - I'm afraid of getting a disease like AIDS from donating...

Each needle used during the blood donation process is sterile and used only once and is disposed of in a specially marked biohazard container immediately following the donation. No one has ever contracted HIV or any infectious disease from donating blood.

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Sexual activity - Is there any kind of sexual activity that will affect my ability to donate blood?

If you have any reason to believe you may have acquired an infection through unprotected sex, you should not donate. NZ Blood Service relies on donors giving accurate information about their health and other important issues that affect the safety of blood.

You must NEVER give blood if:

  • You, or any of your current (or past) sexual partners have (had) AIDS or a positive test for HIV.
  • You carry the hepatitis B or C virus.
  • You have ever injected yourself, even once, with drugs not prescribed by a Doctor.
  • You have haemophilia or a related clotting disorder and have received treatment with plasma derived clotting factor concentrates at any time.
  • You think you need an HIV or Hepatitis test.

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).
  • After engaging in sex work (prostitution) or accepting payment in exchange for sex in any country other than New Zealand.
  • After leaving a country in which you have lived and which is considered to be high risk of HIV infection (includes sub Saharan Africa and parts of Asia. Full list available at blood collection sessions or please call your local Donor Centre or 0800 GIVE BLOOD (0800 448 325) and ask to speak with a nurse to discuss your eligibility).

You must not give blood for:
 ONE YEAR:

  • Following sex with anyone:
    • whom you know carries the hepatitis B or C virus.
    • who is a sex worker (prostitute).
    • who has ever injected themselves with drugs not prescribed by a Doctor.
    • who lives in or comes from a country considered high risk for HIV infection.
    • who has haemophilia or a related blood clotting disorder and received treatment with plasma derived clotting factor concentrates at any time.
  • After engaging in sex work (prostitution) or accepting payment in exchange for sex in New Zealand.
  • If you are a woman, after engaging in sex with a man who has had oral or anal sex with another man.

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Sexually transmitted disease (STDs) - I have recently had a sexually transmitted disease. Can I donate?

Depending on the type of STD you have or have had in the past there could be a temporary or permanent deferral that applies.

If multiple episodes of sexually transmitted infections have occurred a person may not be able to give blood donations.

After an episode of gonorrhoea - you must wait for one year from recovery and the end of treatment.

For chlamydia and non specific urethritis we will ask you to wait for 4 weeks after full recovery and completing antibiotic treatment.

If you have or have had syphilis you are not eligible to donate.

For other infections –or if you are uncertain, please call your local Donor Centre or 0800 GIVE BLOOD (0800 448 325) and ask to speak with a nurse to discuss your eligibility.

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Shingles - I have recently had shingles. Can I donate?

You will be able to donate when you are feeling well and the rash is completely clean and dry.

NZ Blood Service may also be able to use your plasma to provide valuable antibodies to protect people at risk of chickenpox. If you live near one of our main Donor Centres, please tell us about your chickenpox infection as soon as possible as we may wish to arrange special tests to check your chickenpox antibody level. Please call your local Donor Centre.

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Splenectomy - I had my spleen removed. Can I donate?

If your spleen was removed due to trauma or physical injury you are eligible to donate 6 months after full recovery.

If you received a blood transfusion as well, you will not be eligible to donate for 12 months after the transfusion.

If however, your spleen was removed to treat a chronic illness such as immune thrombocytopaenic purpura (ITP) or lymphoma, you are not eligible to donate blood.

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Stroke and transient ischaemic attack (TIA) – I have had a stroke/TIA. Can I donate?

After a stroke or TIA it will not be possible for you to give blood again, even if you have recovered fully. This requirement is to protect your own health as you may not be able to tolerate giving a 470mL blood donation.

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Smoking - Can I donate if I am a smoker?

Yes however we strongly recommend you wait at least 1 hour after your donation before having a smoke.

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Surgery - I have surgery planned in the near future. Can I donate?

If you have surgery planned within 84 days, you may be deferred if there is a risk of significant blood loss during the surgery. Please call your local Donor Centre or 0800 GIVE BLOOD (0800 448 325 ) and ask to speak with a nurse to discuss your eligibility.

How long after surgery will I have to wait before I donate?
The length of time to wait before donating blood after surgery depends on a number of factors. They include the condition for which you had surgery, the type of surgery and the recovery period. For most surgery this is 3-6 months but if you received a blood transfusion, the waiting period is 12 months.

If you need more information, please call your local Donor Centre or 0800 GIVE BLOOD (0800 448 325) and ask to speak with a nurse to discuss your eligibility.

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Systemic lupus erythematosus - I have systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) can I donate?

If you have SLE we will need to confirm your diagnosis. If no treatment has been needed to suppress the condition in the last 12 months, then you may be able to donate.

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Tattoo - I just got a tattoo. Can I donate?

You cannot donate for 6 months after receiving a tattoo. This also applies to cosmetic tattooing.

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Termination of pregnancy

Termination of pregnancy – see Miscarriage

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Thrombosis

See Deep vein thrombosis

  • Other thrombosis – please call your local Donor Centre or 0800 GIVE BLOOD (0800 448 325) and ask to speak with a nurse.

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Time - How long does it take to donate blood?

The entire process of giving blood takes approximately 60 minutes. This includes filling in the Donor Health Questionnaire Form and the confidential interview with the nurse. The donation itself takes only 5-10 minutes, and finally 10-15 minutes to rest and have refreshment afterwards.

The rest period after each donation is an important part of the process. Your body is adjusting to a reduced blood volume and will be slowly moving fluid from your tissues back into your blood. Having a drink is also an important part of replacing the volume of blood you have donated.

For your safety it is strongly recommended that you rest for 10-15 minutes after the blood donation to minimise the risk of fainting.

A plasma donation takes longer than a whole blood donation - about 45 minutes for the collection period. The same comments apply as for whole blood donation.

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Tooth extraction – I have had a tooth / teeth extracted. When can I donate?

If the extraction was uncomplicated we will ask you to wait 7 days. If the extraction involved multiple teeth or resulted in complications, we will ask you to wait 4 weeks after full recovery.

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Toxoplasma infection/toxoplasmosis – I have had toxoplasma infection. When can I donate?

We ask you to wait for 6 months from full recovery and completing antibiotic treatment.

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Travel - I've recently been overseas. When can I donate?

Most people who travel outside New Zealand are able to donate blood when they return. However travel to some areas may result in a stand down period.

To find out if you can donate please check the Donating after Travelling tool if you have been overseas recently to find out when you can donate next.

Please also see "Lived in the UK"

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Ulcer -– I have a stomach (gastric) or duodenal ulcer. When can I donate?

We ask you to wait until a minimum of 3 months after oral treatment for gastric or duodenal ulcers, and all symptoms have settled.

If you have had a partial gastrectomy for surgery, we ask you to wait for 6 months before donating.

If you have had a total gastrectomy you will not be able to donate, as your ability to absorb iron is permanently reduced.

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Ulcerative colitis – I have ulcerative colitis. Can I donate?

You will not be able to donate blood if you have ulcerative colitis.
See also Irritable bowel.

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Vaccination - how long after I've had a vaccination (or flu shot, etc) can I donate?

It depends on the type of vaccine. Those made from 'killed / inactivated / recombinant' material generally do not affect eligibility. These include diphtheria, influenza (flu), hepatitis A, meningococcus, pertussis (whooping cough), pneumococcus, Q fever, tetanus, human papillomavirus (Gardasil) and others.

The exception is hepatitis B. If you have received this vaccine, you should not donate for a week as it may interfere with our testing.

Vaccines made from 'live / attenuated' material restrict our use of your donation. We can use the plasma from your donation but are not able to use red cells from a whole blood donation during the 4 week period after vaccination. These include BCG (tuberculosis), measles, mumps, Polio - Sabin oral polio vaccine, and varicella (chicken pox); but 8 weeks after rubella (German measles) vaccine and combined measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine.

If you are unsure about your eligibility to donate after vaccination, please call your local Donor Centre or call 0800 GIVE BLOOD (0800 448 325) and ask to speak with a nurse.

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Vaccination for hepatitis B - I've had a hepatitis B vaccination. Can I give blood?

You should wait one week after receiving this vaccine to donate. Hepatitis A is a quite different vaccine and it is possible to give blood immediately providing you are well and any inflammation at the injection site has settled.

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Varicose veins surgery or injection – I have had surgery or injection treatment for varicose veins

We ask you to wait for 4 weeks after injection treatment and until fully recovered.

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Vasectomy – I have had a vasectomy. When can I donate?

We ask you to wait for 2 weeks until the wound is healed and you are fully recovered.

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Wart virus - I have wart (human papilloma) virus. Can I donate?

Yes, as long as there is no broken skin or localised infection.

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Weight - How much should I weigh if I want to donate blood?

The minimum weight is 50kg for whole blood donation, however first time donors must also meet height and weight criteria.Find out if you meet the height and weight criteria by using our handy calculator.

We will not normally accept new apheresis (plasma or platelet) donors who weigh less than 60kg, unless the donor has a special antibody that is needed to make a special treatment product.

The amount of blood your body contains is proportional to your weight: heavier people have a larger volume of blood. If a standard donation of 470mL plus test samples is too large a proportion of your blood volume, you will be unable to donate.

These criteria are in place to protect your health as a donor. If your weight becomes acceptable for blood donation at any time you can be accepted as a blood donor.

Is there any upper weight limit for blood donors?
Yes, this is related to the maximum safe capacity of our donor chairs which may vary from site to site.

To find out specific information about your local collection centre, call your local Donor Centre or 0800 GIVE BLOOD (0800 448 325) and ask to speak with a nurse.

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What proportion of a donation is red cells / plasma / platelets?

Approximately 45% is red cells and 55% is plasma, a very small proportion is platelets. The blood components prepared from each donation contain approximately:

  • Red cells: red cells with a little plasma 290mL
  • Platelet concentrates: platelets in approx 50mL plasma
  • Plasma: the remaining plasma 290mL

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Who - donates blood?

Less than 4% of New Zealanders donate each year, yet over 42,000 of us need blood each year. This means that fewer than 4% of the people in our communities are supporting 100% of our blood needs.

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Who - will receive my blood?

Anyone in need, anywhere in the country. People such as accident victims, patients undergoing surgery, recipients of organ and bone marrow transplants and those undergoing treatment for leukaemia. You can be sure that no matter who receives it, he or she will be very grateful.

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Why are there four collection bags?

Back at the laboratory the blood is filtered to remove the white blood cells. It is then spun in a centrifuge and separated to make different blood components. These are red cells, plasma and platelets. In addition, the filter removes the white cells. The four bags are needed at different stages of these processing steps.

If the question you are looking for is not available, then please contact us with your question.

Common reasons for deferral are also available.

A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z

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