Is donating blood safe? Can people with tattoos donate blood? Can blood donation make you weaker? If you’ve been reluctant to give blood because you were anxious about the answers to any of these questions, you have absolutely nothing to worry about! In fact, to put your concerns to rest, let’s separate fact from fiction together with some fascinating myths below—and the truth behind these tall tales.
Myth: Needles hurt a lot.
Fact: Most people who give blood describe the feeling as a mild pinch, and even then, it’s over in the blink of an eye. It’s more painful to stub your toe or bite your tongue. Donating blood is perfectly safe, too, and it’s only scary in your head! Many here at Vitalant felt the same way at first before learning firsthand that the process was a walk in the park. Our staff is also highly trained, very friendly and really go the extra mile to make you super comfortable.
Myth: You can contract HIV and other contagious diseases.
Fact: Strict safety procedures and the use of sterile, single-use equipment ensure that blood donation carries no risk of contracting any blood-borne illness. You have a better chance of catching a cold while strolling around in public.
Myth: It takes too long.
Fact: The entire donation process from start to finish typically lasts about an hour, and the blood-collection portion usually takes only 10 minutes. That’s four times faster than it takes the average person to go grocery shopping.
Myth: You can’t donate blood if you have tattoos or piercings.
Fact: If you were tattooed or pierced with a sterile needle and single-use ink at a state-regulated tattoo parlor, you can donate without restriction. If not, you can still donate if it’s been at least 3 months since you received your last tattoo. Check out our additional eligibility requirements for more information.
Myth: If I donate blood, I won’t have enough for my own body.
Fact: The human body contains enough blood to enable you to donate with minimal to no side effects. Like a factory, your body continually makes blood and does so rather quickly. Your body will replace the volume (plasma) within 48 hours. In only 4 to 8 weeks, many people replace all lost red blood cells—and by taking 18 milligrams of iron in a multivitamin for 60 days after donation, you can make recovery even faster.
Myth: Blood can be stored forever.
Fact: Like a gallon of milk or a carton of eggs, blood has a shelf life. Platelets must be transfused within a week, red cells must be used within 42 days even after refrigeration, and plasma can be stored frozen for one year.
Myth: You can’t donate if you’ve traveled.
Fact: This depends on where you traveled and when, so don’t count yourself out just yet. There are more safe places to travel than not. Worst-case scenario, you’re temporarily deferred. If you’ve traveled outside the U.S. recently and have any questions regarding your eligibility, please call us at 1-877-258-4825 and choose Option 1.
Myth: My iron levels are too low.
Fact: They may be higher than you think, and even vegetarians aren’t immediately disqualified because iron is found in foods other than meat. Before you donate, your hemoglobin levels will be tested to ensure that it’s safe for you to give blood.
Myth: I can’t donate because I’m on medication.
Fact: Not necessarily. Most medications are acceptable. Many people with conditions such as diabetes or high blood pressure that’s controlled with medication donate regularly. Please review our medications list for more information.
Myth: I’m too old.
Fact: Though it may come as a surprise, there’s actually no upper age limit to donating blood. Even Jeanne Louise Calment, who lived to 122 and was the oldest person to ever live, would have been eligible!
BONUS MYTH: You can’t donate if you’ve been vaccinated against the flu or COVID-19.
Fact: That’s just false! You can give blood after you’ve been vaccinated against either virus as long as you’re feeling healthy.
Now that you are a certified myth-buster, start saving lives by scheduling your appointment today!
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Published by: Jeremy T. — Vitalant Contributor