Donating blood platelets or plasma has always been a noble pursuit to help those in need. In recent years, finding suitable donors has become increasingly more difficult, causing a drastic supply shortage. The American Red Cross has been encouraging more people to come forward, but a lot of willing donors are being turned away.
Determining your Eligibility
One of the reasons for this is because of the increasing popularity of body art – if you’ve had a tattoo or piercing within the last year, you are not eligible to donate blood in most states, according to their rules.
- Piercing Eligibility Guidelines
“Acceptable as long as the instruments used were sterile, one time use. Wait 12 months if there is any question whether or not the instruments used were sterile and free of blood contamination. This requirement is related to concerns about hepatitis.”
- Tattoo Eligibility Guidelines
“Wait 12 months after a tattoo if the tattoo was applied in a state that does not regulate tattoo facilities. This requirement is related to concerns about hepatitis. Acceptable if the tattoo was applied by a state-regulated entity using sterile technique. Only a few states currently regulate tattoo facilities, so most donors with tattoos must wait 12 months after tattoo application before donating blood. You should discuss your particular situation with the health historian at the time of donation.”(American Red Cross website)
When you go to a blood bank to give plasma, they ask you a series of questions to determine if you are eligible to donate. Obviously, they don’t want to risk accepting contaminated blood, so they will ask about your sexual history, current health status and other related questions, including whether or not you have gotten a tattoo or piercing within the last twelve months.
All blood that is donated is screened for diseases such as HIV, Hepatitis, Syphilis and other common blood-born ailments. However, it goes without saying that it is a waste of the blood bank’s and the donor’s time to harvest blood that is tainted and thus worthless. In order to avoid wasted time, they ask these questions to screen the potential donor. And although tattooing and piercing are much safer than some medical professionals like to indicate, there is still always a chance of getting and carrying a disease unknowingly. Especially Hepatitis, which has been the object of many heated arguments and stringent regulations.
If you should happen to contract a disease from a tattoo or piercing, it should show up in a screening after 12 months, which is the reason for the waiting period. Yes, maybe it’s a little over-precautious, but would you want to be the one on the receiving end of dirty blood? If there is even a slight chance, it is better to be safe than sorry.
The only exception to the waiting period rule is if the tattoo was received in a state that regulates the tattoo industry. Currently, on a few states do this, but laws are always changing so contact your local blood bank to find out if you live in one of these states. In more recent months, some blood banks have relaxed their eligibility rules in regards to tattoos, so there is also the slight chance one of these donation centers are in your area. Contacting them is always the best way to know for sure.
So, if body art and blood donation are both important to you, you have a very important decision to make. Sacrificing your own desires for the benefit of others is always commendable. If that is your wish, you might have to put the tattoo or piercing off for a while. On the other hand, it doesn’t make you selfish to decide in favor of body art, as long as you don’t forget that helping others will always provide you with even more satisfaction; and there are certainly other ways that you can be of assistance to those in need. So, if you can’t give your blood, enjoy your art and reach out to someone with your money, time and your love instead.