Can You Donate Blood? Here’s How To See If You’re Eligible To Save Lives & Enjoy Free Snacks

eligibility to donate blood

“Hey, have you donated blood before?”

“Nah, I don’t know if I’m eligible yet.”

That’s how a convo I had recently went. Unfortunately, it’s not an uncommon way for conversations around blood donation to go. According to Lifeblood, 40% of eligible Aussies rule themselves out from donating before checking whether they’re actually eligible.

Given one in three Aussies will require a life-saving blood donation sometime in their lifetime, it’s a pretty dang alarming stat. So it’s time we change things, right?

If you’ve ever glazed over the thought of blood donation before because you thought you weren’t eligible, there’s some simple criteria to follow that’ll allow you to assess whether you can roll up your sleeves and save lives (and score a free snack at the end).

This could be you…

This guide won’t just tell you whether you can donate blood, but also what kind of donation you can make. This includes plasma, which has 18(!) uses, from heart surgery patients to protecting against tetanus. You could also be eligible to donate platelets, which are rather helpful little guys. If a blood vessel is damaged, platelets clump together to save the day and stop people from bleeding out. And lastly, you can even donate red blood cells where 34% go to cancer and blood disease patients.

To keep things simple, we’ve compiled a bunch of commonly asked questions around blood donation eligibility to help you get one step closer to being a real-life superhero.

Apparently, plasma is orange?

Can I donate blood if I get a tattoo?

Despite common belief, you can actually donate plasma right after being tattooed in a licensed parlour in Australia. In fact, the person who took my blood over the weekend donates regularly and has heaps of sick tattoos.

You’ll need to wait a week after a tattoo to donate blood and platelets, so you can spread out the needles. (Doesn’t matter how big or small, you’re still brave in our books.) However, if the tattoo is done overseas by an unlicensed parlour, you’ll have to wait four months.

Can I donate blood if I get a piercing?

Again, plasma comes in for the win here, as you can donate straight after a piercing of any kind. (As long as it was done with clean, sterile equipment and not in your friend’s basement.) You’ll have to wait 24 hours after getting an ear piercing or four months after a body piercing to donate blood or platelets. Moving on.

Can I donate blood if I have low iron?

Unfortunately no, you can’t donate blood if you have low iron, as you need that for growing big and strong. (I guess our parents weren’t lying after all.) However, there are ways to boost your levels like eating iron-rich foods and going to a doctor for professional help.

Can I donate blood if I have injected recreational drugs?

You’ll have to wait five years before donating blood.

Can I donate blood if I have travelled overseas?

It depends on where you’ve travelled as there is a higher risk of contracting certain diseases like HIV and malaria in some countries. You can check the list of locations, here.

You can go from travelling overseas to your local blood bank, depending on which country you visit.

What are you waiting for? A new blood donor is needed every time you watch a four-minute TikTok. By the time you type a message to all your friends to donate together, another blood donation is needed. (In 18 seconds, give or take.)

Find if you’re eligible and book your next donation in, here.