“Thanks to wonderful people who give blood I lead a full and active life.”

Nisa, Blood Recipient

Who Can't Give Blood?

Although most people are potentially able to give blood, some are not.

There are a variety of reasons why we might ask you not to give blood, but they fall into two main categories. Firstly, if evidence suggests that donating blood could potentially harm you, then to protect your safety we would ask you not to donate. Secondly, if evidence suggests that your donation could potentially harm the patient receiving it, then we would ask you not to donate.
This would include the situation where a specific behaviour may have put you at a higher risk of an infection which could be transmitted to a patient by blood.

Many of the rules implemented in the UK on who can give blood are a requirement of European law. However, there are a number of expert committees that regularly review the evidence relating to exclusions and deferrals from blood donation. Policies which specifically relate to the safety of blood for patients are recommended to the Government by the independent advisory committee on the Safety of Blood, Tissues and Organs (SaBTO). A key part of their work is to ensure that the policies applied by the UK Blood Services are based on the best available scientific evidence.

If you are not able to give blood we know this can be disappointing. However, we hope you will understand that our overriding responsibility is to ensure the safety of donors and the safety of blood for patients.

Make sure you can give

  • Travel

    Travelled outside the UK within the past 6 months for business or a holiday?

  • Cardiovascular

    Do you presently have or have you had any heart conditions?

  • Infection

    Had any kind of infection within the past 2 weeks?

  • Antibiotics

    Taking a course or completed a course of antibiotics in the past 7 days?

  • Feel unwell

    Chesty cough, head cold, sore stomach, a sore throat or an active cold sore?

  • On hospital waiting list

    Are you waiting for treatment or are you currently undergoing medical tests?

  • Piercings and tattoos

    Had a tattoo or any skin piercing in the past 4 months?

  • Dental work

    Have you been to see a dentist in the past 7 days?

You should NOT give blood if...

  • You're a male donor with less than 12 weeks' interval between donations
  • You're a female donor who had given blood in the last 12 weeks (normally, you must wait 16 weeks).
  • You have a chesty cough, sore throat or active cold sore.
  • You're currently taking antibiotics or you have just finished a course within the last seven days or have had any infection in that last two weeks.
  • You've had hepatitis or jaundice in the last 12 months.
  • You've had a tattoo, semi-permanent make up or any cosmetic treatment that involves skin piercing in the last 4 months.
  • You have had acupuncture in the last 4 months, unless this was done within the NHS or by a qualified Healthcare Professional registered with a statutory body.
  • A member of your family (parent, brother, sister or child) has suffered with CJD (Creutzfeld-Jakob Disease).
  • You've ever received human pituitary extract (which was used in some growth hormone or fertility treatments before 1985).
  • You have received blood or think you may have received blood during the course of any medical treatment or procedure anywhere in the world since 1st January 1980.

You should NOT give blood for 12 months after sex with...

  • A man (if you're a male). Men who have had anal or oral sex with another man (with or without a condom) are deferred from blood donation for 12 months.
  • A man who has had sex with another man (if you're a female).
  • A commercial sex worker.
  • Anyone who has ever injected themselves with drugs.
  • Anyone with haemophilia or a related blood clotting disorder who has received clotting factor concentrates.
  • Anyone of any race who has been sexually active in parts of the world where AIDS/HIV is very common. This includes countries in Africa. (Please be aware that if we have previously made special arrangements for you to donate you should check with our 24 hour helpline on 0300 123 23 23 as we have made some changes to our processes).

Further information

For information on the work of the advisory committee on the Safety of Blood, Tissues and Organs (SaBTO), including the review process for donor selection policies, visit: www.gov.uk/government/policy-advisory-groups/advisory-committee-on-the-safety-of-blood-tissues-and-organs

For more information on why men who have had sex with men in the past 12 months are not able to donate please visit the FAQs.

For information from the Terrence Higgins Trust on the 12 month fixed period deferral of men who have sex with men from blood donation, visit the Terrence Higgins Trust website

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It also has the following benefits:

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Find out how giving blood saves lives

Did you know?

Each blood donation can help as many as 3 people

100 donations equates to
47 litres of blood

We collect around 1,700,000 blood donations each year

B- Blood is rare

Only 2% of our donors are B-

9% of donors live in
Greater London

10% of donors are donating for the first time

Another fact

Can you give blood?

Man reading a newspaper

Find out what could affect your ability to give blood

Find out more