Every day, about 44,000 units of blood are used to save lives across the United States. This blood is vital for cancer patients, organ transplant recipients, and victims of accidents. Although 38 percent of the U.S. population is eligible to donate blood, less than 10 percent does so each year.
It’s always a good time to donate blood, but it may be on your mind more than usual, because January is National Volunteer Blood Donor Month.
But is it safe? If you’re age 65 or older, you might be concerned about the health risks of donating blood.
It’s a common myth that seniors are “too old” to donate blood. But as long as you meet the eligibility requirements, there is no upper age limit on blood donation. Your blood can save somebody’s life just as well as a younger person’s! Read on to learn the general requirements for being a blood donor.
In general, you can donate blood if:
- You are at least 17 years old
- You weigh at least 100 pounds
- You are in good health (a mini physical exam will take place at the blood donation location)
- It’s been at least eight weeks since your last blood donation
Usually, you cannot donate blood if:
- You had hepatitis when you were 11 years or older
- You have received a blood transfusion within the last year
- You are pregnant, or have been pregnant within the last six weeks
- You have gotten a tattoo within the last year
- You are participating in certain high-risk behaviors
If you decide to donate blood, you’ll find that the process is very simple. You’ll have your basic information and a medical history taken, along with a mini physical exam to measure your pulse, blood pressure and so on.
The procedure will take 5-10 minutes, after which you’ll rest and enjoy a snack. Then you’ll go on home as good as new, with the empowering knowledge that your donation may very well save someone’s life!