Unfortunately, some people may not be able to donate. Serious health problems, possible exposure to infectious disease(s), or participation in high-risk activities can defer some prospective donors indefinitely.
*Indefinite Deferral Criteria are subject to change. For more information please call 1 888 2 DONATE (1-888-236-6283).
Common factors for indefinite deferral are:
- Geographic Deferrals
- Possible Exposure to CJD or vCJD
- HIV High-Risk Activities
- False Reactive (False Positive) Test Results
- Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
1. Geographic Deferrals:
People who have lived in certain regions of Africa, who may have been exposed to a new strain of the virus that causes AIDS (HIV-I Group O), are not eligible to donate blood. People who have received a blood transfusion while visiting there or who have had sex with someone who has lived there are also not permitted to donate blood. This is not based on race or ethnicity, but possible exposure to HIV-I Group O. Countries included are: Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Niger, and Nigeria.
2. Possible Exposure to CJD or vCJD:
People are not eligible to donate blood or plasma if they have spent a cumulative total of three months or more in the United Kingdom (U.K.) between January 1980 and December 31, 1996, or if they have spent a cumulative total of three months or more in France between January 1980 and December 31, 1996, or if they have spent a cumulative total of five years or more in Western Europe outside the U.K. or France since 1980. In addition, people will no longer be eligible to donate blood or plasma if they have had a blood transfusion in the U.K., France or Western Europe since 1980. This deferral is owing to the risk of transmission of variant Creutzfeldt Jakob Disease (vCJD) through blood.
3. HIV High-Risk Activities:
There are a number of high-risk activities for acquiring HIV/AIDS that can indefinitely defer people from giving blood. People who have taken money or drugs for sex since 1977 cannot give blood.
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.
Intravenous use of illegal street drugs/narcotics also constitutes a HIV high risk activity and results in indefinite deferral.
For the safety of the donor and for the safety of the patients who receive blood, donations are not taken from people with some medical conditions. For more specific information on disease-related deferrals, please contact your local blood donor clinic.
5. False Reactive (False Positive) Test Results:
The tests we use to screen blood for infectious disease are highly sensitive. In some cases they react non-specifically with proteins in people's blood and the result comes up "reactive" (positive). When we then repeat the test using a different, more specific assay that it will not be confirmed as a positive result, 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 interval since your last donation 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 www.blood.ca.
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
6. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome:
Canadian Blood Services defers donors with a medical history of chronic fatigue syndrome. In a report published in 2009, it was suggested that an association exists between chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) and the presence of a virus called xenotropic murine leukemia virus-related virus (XMRV).
Although donors with active CFS are significantly unwell and would not be permitted to donate, it is not known what risk having a history of CFS could pose to a blood recipient and as such, Canadian Blood Services indefinitely defers donors with a history of CFS.
Canadian Blood Services takes the safety of the blood supply very seriously. Until XMRV is better understood and more is known about the role the virus plays in CFS and related illnesses, we will safeguard the blood supply through this deferral.
For more detailed information on the reported findings related to CFS and XMRV, please follow the link below to Canadian Blood Services’ Transfusion Medicine website.