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Temporary Deferrals

Prospective blood and/or bone marrow donors may be unable to donate for reasons that could either compromise their own health or the safety of the blood supply or marrow product.
Common reasons why people may be temporarily deferred are listed below. This is not a comprehensive list owing to the many factors that can determine a donor’s eligibility. If you have any questions, please contact one of our trained health professionals at 1 888 2 DONATE (1 888 236-6283).
*Temporary Deferral Criteria are subject to change.

  1. Minor Illness
  2. Drugs/Medications
  3. Dental Work
  4. Low Hemoglobin Counts
  5. Tattoos/Body Piercing
  6. Diabetes
  7. Pregnancy
  8. HIV High-Risk Activities
  9. Exposure to Disease/Geographical Deferrals
  10. Recent Major Surgery
  11. Recent Vaccinations

1. Minor illness
Donors are required to feel well at the time of donation. A cold, flu, or allergies may prevent someone from donating.
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2. Drugs/Medications
Some medications, or the underlying cause for taking the medication, may require a temporary deferral. If you are taking any drugs/medications and would like to give blood, please contact one of our trained health professionals at 1 888 2 DONATE (1 888 236-6283).

Oral or intranasal use of street drugs/narcotics will result in a temporary deferral.

Taking certain medications may also temporarily defer someone from donating bone marrow. Donors are required to postpone donation for six months following the last dose of some medications.
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3. Dental Work
For a cleaning or a filling, donors must wait until the day after treatment before donating blood. For an extraction, root canal or dental surgery, donors must wait 72 hours before donating blood, provided there is full recovery.
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4. Low Hemoglobin Counts
Canadian Blood Services temporarily defers blood donors whose hemoglobin copper sulfate test falls below the standard of 12.5 g/dL.
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5. Tattoos/Body Piercing
Donors must wait six months after having a tattoo or body piercing before donating blood or bone marrow. The reason for this temporary deferral is the increased risk of Hepatitis C and other infections associated with tattoos and piercing. Other similar procedures that may fall under this category include acupuncture and electrolysis.
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6. Diabetes
If you have diabetes that is treated by diet, oral hypoglycemics or insulin, you may be eligible to donate blood. It is important to note that each donor is different, and the use of certain medications or other underlying conditions may be cause for deferral. Please call the Canadian Blood Services location closest to you and ask to speak to someone on the Medical staff.

Please note that this information is subject to change. Final eligibility determination rests with the screening staff at the donor clinic. /\ Top
7. Pregnancy
Donors are temporarily ineligible to donate blood while pregnant. There is also a six-month waiting period after giving birth before the donor may be eligible to donate blood.

Women who breastfeed are not eligible to donate blood during the first six months of breastfeeding.

There is a six-week temporary ineligibility period for women who miscarry or terminate a pregnancy.
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8. HIV High-Risk Activities
Being the sexual partner of someone who has participated in high risk activities (other than the sexual partner of someone who has tested positive for HIV) will result in a temporary deferral.
Any man who has not had sex with another man in the last five years and meets other screening criteria may be eligible to give blood.
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9. Exposure to Disease/Geographical Deferrals/False Reactive Test Results
Exposure to diseases, such as malaria or hepatitis, may result in a temporary deferral. Please contact your local blood centre for further information.
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Our goal is to consistently provide patients with safe and effective products at all times. The initial tests we use to screen blood are highly sensitive to guarantee the safety of recipients and are designed to detect donations with even the smallest levels of infection. However, because the tests are so sensitive, in some cases they react non-specifically with proteins in people's blood and the result comes up "reactive" (positive). When we then confirm the test using a different, more specific assay that has different sensitivity levels, it will not confirm positive, and that is what we refer to as a "false reactive" or "false positive." In the past, that meant that the donor was permanently deferred from giving blood.

Health Canada has approved a donor re-entry program that allows eligible donors to come in to be tested again after a 6-month waiting period. Starting with donations made on or after February 18 2014, a donor with a false test result for certain tests will be sent a letter from our Medical Director inviting them to book an appointment after a minimum 6-month interval (the date you are eligible to return will be in the letter you receive) to provide a sample of blood for retesting.

If the results of all our tests are non-reactive, you will be able eligible to donate blood again as long as you continue to meet all of our other donor criteria.

If you have received a letter from us and the 6-month waiting period is up, you can book an appointment to have your blood retested. Please call 1 888 2 DONATE (1-888-236-6283), then select  option 2 for “Nursing.” Please tell the Registered Nurse that you are calling as part of the “donor re-entry program.” We’ll answer your questions and offer a donor clinic location and appointment time convenient for you. If  you have not received a letter but are interested in knowing about the program, you can also may this number.

We ask that you bring your letter from our Medical Director to this re-testing appointment. At that appointment, we will only collect a small amount of blood for testing; a full blood donation would not be collected at that time.

We will then contact you by a follow-up letter to advise you of your test results. If all results are non-reactive, you will be eligible to donate blood again.  You can make another appointment to donate by calling 1 888 2 DONATE or booking online at

Only laboratory tests performed by Canadian Blood Services are acceptable, so even if you have had follow-up testing performed through your personal physician, you would still be required to be retested by Canadian Blood Services.

Our goal is to consistently provide patients with safe and effective products at all times. Equally we strive to provide every donor with a positive donation experience. We’re pleased to offer the donor re-entry program and encourage affected donors to participate in this program.

False Reactive Frequently Asked Questions

10. Recent Major Surgery
If you have had surgery recently, please speak to your local blood centre regarding your eligibility.
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11. Recent Vaccinations
Recent vaccinations may result in a temporary deferral. For example, there is a two-day deferral period after receiving a shot for influenza (the flu). Please note that this information is subject to change. Final eligibility determination rests with the screening staff at the donor clinic.

Deferral periods for common vaccinations.

Can I donate?
Basic Eligibility
Hemoglobin and Iron
Temporary Deferrals
Indefinite Deferrals
Are you between 17 to 23?

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