Are you eligible to give blood?


The Food & Drug Administration (FDA) sets guidelines on who can donate blood in the United States, guidelines that are followed by all blood centers in the nation.

General Requirements

To donate blood or platelets, you must be:

  • at least 16 years old, weigh 120 pounds and present a signed parental consent form or
  • 17 years old or older, and weigh at least 110 pounds;
  • in good general health, and
  • present a valid photo ID

For more information regarding eligibility and the donation process, click here.

*Coronavirus and Blood Donations*

Please self-defer and do not donate blood for 28 days if you have:

  • cared for, lived with, or otherwise had close contact with individuals diagnosed with or suspected of having COVID-19.
  • been diagnosed with or suspected of having COVID-19.

Please self-defer and do not donate blood for 14 days if you have:

  • been required to self-quarantine due to travel or other exposure risk.

Additional Resources

  • Medication Deferral List - certain medication on this list can prevent you from donating, some for just two days and some permanently. 
  • STBTC Medication List - please inform your technician if you are taking medication on this list.
  • Medication List for Platelet Donors - if you’re planning on donating platelets, please review this list of medications and let your technician know if you’re taking any of them.
  • Synthetic Marijuana Users - if you are a synthetic marijuana user, please do not donate. Read the document for more information.

Are you a cancer survivor? You may be able to donate. Email with specific questions. If you have type 2 diabetes, you can give as long as it is under control with medication and/or lifestyle.

FDA changes guidelines for blood donors

The FDA recently made changes to several guidelines during the COVID-19 pandemic, which may offer additional opportunities for you to give blood if you were previously unable to donate.

Military members and their families

The largest impact in South Texas, with its large military population, is a change to guidelines involving service members and their families. Many members of the U.S. military, their families and civilian contractors stationed in Europe during the 1980s and 1990s are now eligible to donate. They previously were deferred from giving blood following the outbreak of “mad cow disease,” or Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.

The FDA also reduced the deferral or waiting period to give blood to 3 months for many potential donors who previously had to wait 12 months to donate. A complete list of the guideline changes is included below.

Have you been told you're ineligible to give blood?

If you attempted to give blood with the South Texas Blood & Tissue Center but were unable to give due to these FDA regulations, please contact us before making an appointment or coming in to donate. Our donor advocate nurses will contact you to verify if you are now eligible and set up your appointment for you.

  • Our Donor Eligibility line is open 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday-Friday, at 210-731-5590, extension 2243.
  • You also can email us at or fill out the eligibility inquiry form here.

If you were deferred at another blood center, please make your appointment by clicking here. In order to continue to follow proper social distancing guidelines, all donations are by appointment only until futher notice.

Want to learn more about FDA eligibility changes?

Why the changes?

The Food and Drug Administration’s changes to blood donation guidelines were the result of recent studies and data showing the criteria can be modified without compromising the safety of the blood supply. The changes will increase the number of people able to give blood.

The FDA is continuing to evaluate eligibility guidelines and you can learn more about the changes on the FDA website.

What is new for people who were active-duty military, civilian military employees and their families in Europe?

Until these changes, if you were stationed for more than six months in Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands from 1980-90, or Greece, Turkey, Spain, Portugal or Italy from 1980-96, you could not donate blood. You now are eligible to give.

What about other countries in Europe? 

Anyone who spent five years or more in France or Ireland from 1980-2001 will not be able to give. If you received a blood transfusion in the United Kingdom, Ireland or France since 1980, or lived in the United Kingdom for more than three months from 1980-96, you still will not be able to donate. 

Why were these rules in place? 

The guidance affecting military personnel was the result of the outbreak in Europe of variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD), commonly referred to as “mad cow disease.”  

What else has changed?

You now will be able to donate three months after the following (the deferral period previously had been 12 months): 

  • Travel to areas with a risk of malaria in the last three years   
  • A man who had sex with another man 
  • A blood transfusion  
  • Organ, tissue or bone marrow transplant  
  • Bone or skin graft  
  • Contact with someone else’s blood  
  • An accidental needle-stick  
  • Sexual contact with anyone who has HIV/AIDS or has a had a positive test for the HIV/AIDS virus  
  • Sexual contact with a prostitute or anyone else who takes money or drugs for sex  
  • Sexual contact with anyone who has ever used needles to take drugs or steroids, or anything not prescribed by their doctor  
  • Female donors who have had sexual contact with a male who had sexual contact with another male  
  • A tattoo from a non-licensed facility (there is no waiting period if tattoos were done in a state-regulated establishment and have fully healed)  
  • An ear or body piercing without single-use equipment (there is no waiting period if piercings were done with a single-use device, as long as they have healed)  
  • Treatment for syphilis or gonorrhea  

You now will be able to donate three months after the following (the deferral previously had been indefinite):

  • Use of needles to take drugs, steroid or anything else not prescribed by your doctor
  • Accepting money, drugs or other payment for sex

Where can I find out more and give feedback to the FDA?


For other frequently asked questions regarding blood donations, click here.