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In doubt about giving blood? You could be eligible.

October 12, 2011

10/13/11 Think you’re not a good candidate for blood donation? Think again. Sometimes, people with high blood pressure and diabetes suspect they are not eligible to give blood. Many cancer survivors also believe they will be deferred because of their previous illness.

“But that’s not always the case,” said Sharyn Whitman, CEO for the Indiana-Ohio Blood Services Region of the American Red Cross. “We’re working to dispel myths and to educate people about who can give blood and when.”

In the United States, about 38 percent of the population is eligible to donate blood. The most common reason someone might not be able to give on any given day is low hemoglobin. And Red Cross officials say that measure of iron in red blood cells can often be improved by eating more iron-rich foods or by talking to your doctor about taking iron supplements.

“The good thing is, most deferrals are for short periods of time,” said Whitman. “Most of the time, people can monitor and address the cause, and then come back to give blood again.”

Donors with high blood pressure, for instance, can give blood as long as their condition is controlled. And diabetics can give if their blood sugar is controlled with diet, oral medication or with most insulins. Some cancer survivors can also donate. Donors with a history of non-hematologic cancer must be cancer-free for one year, have completed all their treatments, and meet all other eligibility criteria.

“We encourage anyone who is in good general health to consider giving blood,” said Whitman. “If you like to help people, the Red Cross is the place to be, and has the right volunteer opportunity just for you.”

Give blood or platelets Oct. 1 to 31 and be entered to win a weekend getaway for two at the Inn and Spa at Cedar Falls, Ohio and a zip-line tour through Hocking Hills Canopy Tours.


  • Wednesday, Oct. 19, from 3:30 p.m. until 7:30 p.m. at Riverside Intermediate School in the Cafeteria, located at 905 E. Baker St. in Plymouth.  This is a Pint Size Heroes blood drive. 

How to Donate Blood

To schedule an appointment to donate please call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or visit for more information. Individuals who are 17 years of age (16 with parental permission in Indiana and Ohio), meet weight and height requirements (110 pounds or more, depending on their height) and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood. Please bring your Red Cross blood donor card or other form of positive ID when you come to donate.

About the American Red Cross

The Indiana-Ohio Blood Services Region serves northern and central Indiana and northwestern Ohio, and needs to collect about 500 units of blood a day to meet patient need in more than 60 hospitals.  In addition to providing blood to our community, the American Red Cross also provides relief to victims of disaster, trains millions in lifesaving skills, serves as a communication link between U.S. military members and their families, and assists victims of international disasters or conflicts.