For the safety of the blood donor and the recipient, all blood donors must undergo an evaluation to determine their eligibility to give blood. Eligibility information can often be confusing and overwhelming for first time donors so don’t hesitate to ask any question to the blood bank staff at any of our locations. If you were deferred in the past from donating, you may be able to donate again. Final determination of eligibility will be determined on the day of donation.
If you have traveled to a location that has had Zika virus cases, you are still eligible to donate! You blood will be tested for Zika after you donate and before it is used for a transfusion.
Iron (Hemoglobin) and Blood Donation
Each time you come to donate blood, the blood bank staff will check your hemoglobin, an iron-containing protein. This is done to protect both you, the donor, and the patient who receives your blood. Many people are temporarily restricted from giving blood due to low hemoglobin levels.
To increase the chance that your hemoglobin level will be high enough to donate blood on your chosen day, you can raise your level of iron by eating iron-rich foods or by taking supplements.
Foods Rich in Iron
If you have been temporarily deferred for low hemoglobin levels, increase your iron intake and try donating again in about a week.
- Vitamin C enhances the absorption of the iron you eat. Eat fruits and vegetables rich in vitamin C along with food high in iron.
- Tea interferes with iron absorption by about 50 percent.
- Iron in meat is absorbed twice as efficiently as that in vegetables. Only two percent of the iron in spinach is absorbed. More iron from vegetables can be absorbed if meat is eaten at the same meal.
- Iron pots, such as cast-iron skillets, are an excellent source of iron, especially when used for cooking acidic foods. Spaghetti sauce increases from three to 88 milligrams of iron per half cup when simmered in an iron pot for three hours. Steel cookware provides no additional iron.
- Iron is part of hemoglobin, a protein that gives blood its red color.
- Hemoglobin cannot be created without iron. About 250 milligrams of iron are needed to produce the hemoglobin for one pint of blood.
- Too little iron in your blood results in iron deficiency anemia. Anemia reduces the amount of oxygen in the blood, which can contribute to malfunctioning of the heart, muscles and brain.
- About half of your body’s iron supply is contained in your red blood cells.