People with obesity are eligible to donate blood. Although obesity is linked to health conditions that can disqualify you from donating, many people with obesity do not have health issues.
Many people with obesity can donate blood (also called “plasma”). Often, blood donation centers consider donors with obesity on a case-by-case basis and will look at their overall health to determine eligibility.
Obesity can increase a person’s chances of developing several health conditions. Some of these health conditions — such as high blood pressure and heart disease — can disqualify potential blood donors.
Obesity does not disqualify you from donating blood. But certain conditions and factors linked to obesity may prevent donation.
For example, the reclining blood collection chairs or beds at most donation centers are manufactured with upper weight and height limits for safety.
In addition, the overall health of a person with obesity may need to be evaluated before they’re approved as blood donors.
Factors that can play a role in donation eligibility include:
If you have diabetes, your condition should be well managed in order to donate. Blood pressure readings must also be below 180/100 mmHg.
What makes someone a good candidate for blood donation?
A good candidate for donating blood is anyone who meets the basic requirements and doesn’t have disqualifying factors like having low iron levels.
Basic donation requirements typically include:
- being at least age 17
- weighing at least 110 pounds
- being in generally good health
Some people may be unable to donate plasma for one or more reasons. The following may disqualify you from donating blood plasma:
- Under age 17: Most donation centers require that all donors are at least 17 years old.
- Under the weight limit: Donation centers typically have a lower weight limit of 110 pounds. If you’re under this weight, you won’t be able to donate plasma.
- Low blood iron: A low level of iron in your blood, also called iron deficiency anemia, can make blood donation of any type unsafe.
- A health condition that affects your blood: Health conditions such as hepatitis B, hepatitis C, lymphoma, and leukemia affect your blood and disqualify you as a donor.
- Taking blood thinners: Blood thinners increase how much you bleed and can make any type of blood donation unsafe.
- Very high or very low blood pressure: If your blood pressure is outside of the typical “normal” range, you won’t be able to donate plasma. But blood pressure readings can be caused by temporary factors. You might be able to donate at a later date when your blood pressure returns within an acceptable range.
- Feeling ill: You’ll be asked to come back another day if you’re feeling sick with symptoms of a cold, flu, or other illness.
- Taking certain antibiotics: You can’t donate while you’re on a course of antibiotics for an active infection. However, you’ll be eligible if you take antibiotics as a preventive measure, such as for acne.
- Recent STI treatment: After completing treatment for a sexually transmitted infection (STI), you’ll need to wait 3 months before donating blood.
- Received an organ transplant less than 3 months ago: Organ transplant recipients can donate plasma and other blood products, but there’s a waiting period of 3 months.
- Received a blood transfusion in the last 3 months: You’ll also need to wait at least 3 months after a blood transfusion before you’re eligible to donate plasma.
- A pulse below 50 or above 100: A very high or very low pulse can disqualify you. Your pulse can be affected by temporary factors, such as stress, so you might be able to donate later.
- Pregnancy: Donating plasma during pregnancy could be dangerous for the recipient. Blood donation centers don’t allow donations during pregnancy.
- Participation in certain higher risk activities: Activities that might be considered “high risk” include sharing a needle during drug use. These activities can affect the safety of your blood.
- Recent travel to a high malaria-risk country: You won’t be able to donate plasma If you’ve recently traveled to or lived in a country with a high malaria infection rate. You can let the donation center know if you’ve recently been outside of your country, and they can tell you if any restrictions apply.
- Diagnosed with Ebola at any point: You cannot donate plasma or any other blood products if you’ve ever been diagnosed with Ebola.
People with obesity are able to donate blood. However, obesity is linked to health conditions that can cause you to be disqualified from blood donation.
Common reasons for disqualification include high blood pressure and high heart rate.