In the wake of yet another mass shooting, Floridians lined the streets outside of Orlando blood banks to donate to help save the lives of the victims of the horrific shooting at Pulse nightclub. June 14, coincidentally, is World Blood Donor Day. There are some restrictions on who can donate blood, and you may be wondering can I donate blood if I'm taking medication? The short answer is maybe. While oral birth control pills, blood pressure medications, and over-the-counter medications are all fair game, there are a few restrictions.
Some prescription medications, like many acne and psoriasis treatments, diabetes medications, and blood thinners, carry a certain deferral period of one month, several months, or, in the case of a few drugs, forever. You can check out this list from the Mayo Clinic to see if any medications that you currently take or have taken in the past fall into the restricted category.
The reasoning behind most of these medication deferrals have to do with the interruption of the recipient's platelet function, and the possibility of birth defects if your blood were to be donated to a pregnant woman.
If you have a bacterial infection and have been taking antibiotics to treat the illness, you won't be able to donate until you complete your antibiotic regimen, since the bacterial infection may be transmissible through blood. If you've taken aspirin in the past 48 hours, you will have to wait another day to donate platelets by apheresis, but no waiting period is necessary for whole blood donations. If you have an active fever, you will not be able to donate.
Another restriction on blood donation is age — in most states you have to be 17 years old to donate blood without a signed note from a parent.
What types of blood donation you are best suited for varies between individuals, so call and check with your nearest donation center before you donate. Donating blood is quick, painless, and can save lives. It's a small action, but can have a huge impact.