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UK Blood Donation Rules for Donors

The rules for giving blood are strict - but necessary. In some cases, it can be harmful for the donor as well as the person receiving it. Information in this section highlights current blood donation rules and restrictions that apply for donor eligibility in the United Kingdom.

Blood Donor Guidelines and Restrictions

As a rule, most people between the ages of 17 and 66 can give blood without donor restrictions.

UK blood donation rules say you need a good level of general health and wellbeing and weigh between 50 kg and 160 kg (7st 12lb – 25 stone).

Some blood donor restrictions apply to anyone over 70 years old. Thus, some seniors would need to have given blood in the last two years if they want to continue donating.

The National Health Service has several recommendations. They say women should wait a period of 16 weeks (4 months) and men 12 weeks (3 months) between each offering.

Other restrictions apply to women who are under 20 years old, weigh less than 65 kg, or under 168cm tall. These females may need to have their blood volume estimated before they can give a blood donation.

The vast majority of the public in the United Kingdom are potentially able to give blood. But, some do get ruled out from donating. The principle reasons why you cannot give blood fall into two main categories:

  1. You may get asked not to donate to protect your safety. This applies if evidence suggests that donating blood might harm you.
  2. You may get asked not to donate your blood if evidence suggests that your donation might harm the patient receiving. This includes situations where a specific behaviour may have put you at a higher risk of an infection. That means it could get transmitted to a patient through blood transfusion.

UK Blood Donation Rules for DonorsThe UK rules about giving blood are a requirement of European law. There are several expert committees who periodically review the evidence relating to blood donation exclusions and deferrals.

They advise the British Government accordingly. For example, one of them is the advisory committee on the Safety of Blood, Tissues and Organs (SaBTO).

Their advice relates most to the overriding safety of blood donors and patients.

This ensures the policies applied by the UK Blood Services get based on the best available scientific evidence.

Blood Donor Guidelines

  • Antibiotics: Have you taken a course or completed a course of antibiotics in the past seven (7) days?
  • Cardiovascular: Do you presently have or have you had any heart conditions?
  • Dental Work: You may get asked if you have been to see a dentist in the past seven (7) days.
  • Feeling Unwell: Do you have a chesty cough, head cold, sore stomach, a sore throat, or an active cold sore?
  • Hospital Waiting List: Are you waiting for treatment or are you currently undergoing medical tests?
  • Infection: Have you had any kind of infection within the past two (2) weeks?
  • Tattoos and Piercings: Have you had a tattoo or any skin piercing in the past four months?
  • Travel: Did you travel outside the UK within the past six (6) months for business or a holiday?

Blood Donation UK Rules on Exclusions

You should NOT give blood or platelets if:

  • You are a male donor with less than 12 weeks’ interval between donations.
  • You are a female donor who had given blood in the last 16 weeks.
  • You have a chesty cough, sore throat or active cold sore.
  • You are currently taking antibiotics or you have very recently finished a course within the last seven days. The same applies if you have had any infection in that last two weeks.
  • You have had hepatitis or jaundice in the last 12 months.
  • You have had a tattoo, semi-permanent make up, or any cosmetic treatment that involves skin piercing in the last four (4) months.
  • You have had acupuncture in the last 4 months. The exception could be if the NHS or a qualified Healthcare Professional registered with a statutory body did it.
  • A member of your family (parent, brother, sister or child) has suffered with CJD (Creutzfeld-Jakob Disease).
  • You have ever received human pituitary extract. This gets used in some growth hormone or fertility treatments before 1985.
  • You have received blood (or think you did) during the course of any medical treatment or procedure anywhere in the world since 1st January 1980.

You should NOT give blood or platelets for 3 months after sex with:

  • A man (if you are male); men who have had anal or oral sex with another man (with or without a condom) get deferred from blood donation for three (3) months.
    • Note: This rule changed in England and Scotland from November 2017. Men who have sex with other men will be able to give blood three months after their last sexual activity (previously 12 months).
  • A man who has had sex with another man (if you are female).
  • A commercial sex worker.
    • Note: This rule will changed in England and Scotland from November 2017. Sex workers will be able to give blood three months after their last sexual activity (previously 12 months).
  • 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 (includes countries in Africa).
    • Note: This rule will changed in England and Scotland from November 2017 (some exceptions apply). The question relating to sexual activity with a partner in areas where HIV is widespread (e.g. Sub-Saharan Africa) will not exist on the donor safety check form from the beginning of 2022.

Changes to Blood Donation Rules

The government announced a change to some of the blood donor restrictions for men who have sex with men.

Starting in the summer of 2021, men who are in a long-term relationship will be able to donate blood in England without having to wait three months.

Religious Beliefs

You can contact the UK’s National Health Service Blood and Transplant for more information about religious perspectives. But, as a rule all the major religions in the United Kingdom support the principles of blood and organ donation.

They also agree that no one should ever get pressured into making a donation. It should always be a matter of personal choice.


How Do You Become a Blood Donor?

As a rule, you can donate blood if you are between 17 and 66 years old, weigh over 50 kg (7st 12lb) and you are generally in good health.

Those who are over 70 should have given blood in the previous two years if you want to continue donating blood.

Can You Donate Blood if You Have Diabetes?

In fact, diabetics may donate blood providing they meet all other medical requirements. Note that if you used bovine-derived insulin (from cows) before, this results in a deferral from blood donation.

The syringe used by insulin dependent diabetics should get used by them, and no-one else, if the syringe is then reused.

Can You Give Blood if You Have a Tattoo UK?

Individuals with body tattoos must wait four (4) months after having a tattoo or piercing before they can give blood. Tattoos and UK blood donation rules are similar for those who have received permanent or semi-permanent make-up.

Note: You can donate blood following acupuncture providing a qualified NHS or Health Care Professional did it.

UK Blood Donor Rules and Current Blood Donation Guidelines