The fine details and latest updates about blood and plasma donor eligibility may surprise you
We are so grateful to the blood, platelet and plasma donors who supported Canada’s Lifeline over a challenging holiday period. As the impacts of winter weather and illness continue, we need many more people to book now for patients’ sake.
This is a great time to double check your eligibility to donate. Even if you expected you could never donate again, you may be able to resume because of updates to our donation criteria. In the last three months alone, about 500 callers to our 1 888 2 DONATE hotline have discovered just that!
Read on for a taste of the info we’ve been sharing with recent callers. And if, like them, you’ve been deferred in the past, please call 1 888 2 DONATE (1-888-236-6283) to discuss your eligibility before booking an appointment.
Some gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men are now eligible to donate
In September 2022, screening questions specific to sexually active gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men were removed from our donor questionnaire. Instead, all who wish to donate are now asked the same questions about sexual history.
Because of this change, more gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men who could not previously donate are now eligible. Learn more about sexual behaviour-based screening.
Many who have lived in Europe and Saudi Arabia became eligible in 2022
In February 2022, people who have lived in Saudi Arabia or many European countries (outside the UK, the Republic of Ireland and France) became eligible to donate blood, plasma and platelets. These changes were a result of updates to eligibility criteria for preventing variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease.
Most prescribed medications are not a barrier to donating
Additionally, even if a particular medication was the cause to stop donating, you may be eligible today because of changes in medication-related criteria.
Check out the “medications” section of our ABCs of eligibility to learn more, and to see a list of commonly prescribed medications that are acceptable when donating blood or plasma.
Many cancer survivors can donate blood, plasma and platelets
Previously, people were not eligible to donate after cancer diagnosis and full treatment. As of July 2016, this criteria has changed.
Today, people can be eligible to donate after five years cancer-free for most cancer types. Check out the “cancer” section in our ABCs of eligibility to learn more.
You may be eligible to donate even if you have had heart trouble
After treatment for heart conditions such as a heart attack, you may be eligible to donate. You can call 1 888 2 DONATE (1-888-236-6283) to discuss your condition.
There is no upper age limit for donating blood, plasma and platelets
The upper age limit was removed in 2016. Anyone 17 years or older may be eligible to donate. See “age” in our ABCs of eligibility for more details.
A note about donors and travel
Every time you donate, we ask about where you may have previously lived or travelled. This is because the places you’ve lived in and travelled to can expose you to different infections that may be transmitted by blood donation. You can see our travel page for full details.
Did you know that in 2020, we made important updates affecting donors who have returned from short-term travel? They affect those who have spent time in areas where medications to prevent malaria are recommended.
If your stay in one of those areas was less than six months, you only need to wait three months to donate blood or platelets. And if your stay was less than one day, or if you are a plasma donor, you may be able to donate sooner.
Plasma donation a great option for some international travellers
If you can’t donate whole blood or platelets because you recently lived in or returned from a place where medications to prevent malaria are recommended — or if you have had malaria yourself — you may still be able to donate plasma. The eligibility criteria are different because when medications are made from plasma, the malaria parasite is removed.
At our dedicated plasma donor centres, there is no waiting period related to travel to malaria-endemic areas (outside the 21-day waiting period that applies to all donors after international travel outside the continental U.S., Europe and Antarctica).
If you’ve never tried donating plasma, why not give it a whirl after your vacation?
You can also be eligible to donate plasma after a malaria infection (starting six months after recovery). Unfortunately, people who have had malaria are not eligible to donate whole blood or platelets.
NOTE: All donor eligibility information in this article is current as of the date of publication. The very latest information is always available on our ABCs of eligibility page.