Donate Blood

Donor Health & Wellness

Blood plays a vital role in a person's health. Certain blood related conditions or medications may restrict your ability to give blood.

Conditions that Affect Donation

Iron

Anemia or iron poor blood is a condition where there aren't enough healthy red blood cells in the body to carry sufficient amounts of oxygen to the tissues. Hemoglobin is a protein in red blood cells that contains iron. If you lose too many red blood cells, destroy them before they are replaced or produce cells that are unhealthy, you can end up experiencing symptoms of anemia.

Iron is necessary in building the proteins of red blood cells and is required for producing energy from food. It is an important factor in every activity your body performs. Iron in the hemoglobin molecule also helps carry carbon dioxide back to the lungs for removal.

Hematocrit is the proportion of your total blood volume that is composed of red blood cells. The ratio of red blood cells to the total blood volume is normally about 45 percent for men and 40 percent for women. CBC requires the ratio to be 38 percent red blood cells for you to donate.

A low hematocrit level could be caused by a diet low in iron-rich foods, blood loss, pregnancy or another medical condition.

What if I'm not allowed to donate because my "crit" is too low?

  • Wait about four weeks before you try again to donate.  
  • Try adding "crit friendly" foods to your diet.

You can improve your iron and hemoglobin levels by including more high-iron foods in your diet and avoiding substances that reduce iron absorption.

There are two types of iron - heme iron and non-heme iron. Heme iron, which is found in meat, fish and poultry, is much better absorbed than the non-heme iron, which is found primarily in fruits, vegetables, dried beans, nuts and grain products. When you eat the two together the non-heme iron is better absorbed. Foods high in vitamin C, like tomatoes, citrus fruits and red, yellow and orange peppers, can also help with the absorption of non-heme iron.

High-Iron Foods
  • Nuts - Almonds and peanuts.
  • Fruit - Apricots, currants, dates, oranges, prunes, raisins, pineapple.
  • Vegetables - Asparagus, cabbage, cucumbers, cauliflower, celery, cooked greens, lettuce peppers, peas, potatoes, radishes, tomatoes, turnips, mushrooms and spinach.
  • Meats - Beef, duck, goose, lamb and liver.
  • Other foods - Bran, beans, brown bread, egg yolks, oatmeal, oysters, soy beans, whole wheat, molasses and corn meal.
Iron-Rich Foods

Avoiding iron busters, which are foods or substances that may reduce the absorption of iron by your body when consumed at the same time, is also important in boosting your iron level.

Iron Busters

  • Caffeinated beverages.
  • Chocolate.
  • An excess of high fiber foods.
  • Some medications like antacids or phosphate salts.
  • High calcium foods.

If you were temporarily deferred from donating blood because of your hemoglobin level, you may have low iron stores, and you are not alone. The majority of people who are deferred from donating blood are deferred for this reason. Hemoglobin levels can fluctuate daily, so we encourage you to follow the tips above to boost your hemoglobin and schedule another appointment soon.

 

Other Blood Related Conditions

Blood Pressure

Your blood pressure is the force of blood pushing against your blood vessel walls. When you have high blood pressure, the pressure in your arteries is elevated. One in four adults (about 50 million Americans) has high blood pressure. When untreated, it can increase the risk of heart attack and stroke.

High blood pressure usually has no symptoms, so it is often called the "silent killer." The only way to tell if you have high blood pressure is to get it checked regularly.

To learn more about Blood Pressure, click here.

High Cholesterol

Cholesterol is a soft, fat-like waxy substance found in the bloodstream and in all your body's cells. Everyone has cholesterol in their body. It is important for the production of cells and some hormones and helps with other bodily functions.

Your body makes all of the cholesterol it needs, but it also gets cholesterol from foods. If you have too much cholesterol in your blood, your body can't get rid of it and it can build up in your arteries. Then, you could be at risk for heart disease or stroke.

To learn more about Cholesterol, click here.