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Body

Can I give blood? Here's everything you need to know

If you've ever thought of donating, you need to fit this criteria.

By Alex Lilly
Fancy doing a good deed today? Whether you're giving whole blood, plasma or platelets, donating blood can help save a life.
And on top of that, it's free and you get a free snack and drink after it too!
World Blood Donor Day is on June 14, but for all you first time donors out there, are you even eligible? Turns out, you need to tick a few boxes first.
Are you aged between 18 and 70?
The only exception is if you're an existing donor. The Red Cross says if you have previously given blood before in Australia and meet eligiblity criteria, you can continue donating whole blood up to your 81st birthday.
Have you had a tattoo in the last four months?
If you've recently had some ink, you'll need to wait at least four months because there is a risk of infection. This also applies to cosmetic tattooing.
Are you pregnant or breastfeeding?
If you're an expecting, you won't be able to donate as it can pose too much stress to your and your baby's circulation.
Give it nine months after you've given birth before you think of donating so that your body has enough time to replenish its stores of iron.
WATCH: What you need to eat more of when pregnant. Post continues after video...
Do you have a heart condition?
If you have heart-related issues, donating blood isn't for you. The Heart Foundation says that if your angina has been treated and you've had no further symptoms for at least six months and you meet other criteria, you may be able to donate. But make sure you speak to your doctor first.
Are you low in iron?
Iron is an important mineral nutrient that helps to make haemoglobin, a protein that transports oxygen around your body. Women who are menstruating are especially susceptible to low iron levels so if you're thinking of donating, check with your doctor to see you're not deficient.
Did you live in the UK for six plus months between 1st January 1980 and 31st December 1996?
Bad luck for any ex-pats, you're ineligible to donate because you may have the deadly variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob (vCJD) disease sometimes known as 'mad cow disease'. Though cases of vCJD are diminishing, there isn't a blood test available for it that's suitable for screening blood donors plus vCJD can incubate in someone for years before any symptoms come up.
Even if you gave blood when you lived in the UK, that doesn't mean you can do the same in Australia. If the UK's National Blood Service had the same rule, there would hardly be anyone left to donate!
If you lived in the UK when mad cow disease was rife, you won't be able to give blood. (Image: Getty Images)
Could you have a sexually-transmitted infection?
If you've had unprotected sex with someone who could have HIV, hepatitis B, hepatitis C or human T-lymphotropic virus (HTLV) or engaged in any 'at-risk' sexual behaviour in the last 12 months, make sure you get yourself checked before donating blood.
Have you taken recreational drugs in the last five years?
This one only applies if you've injected drugs that haven't been prescribed by a practising medical practitioner.
World Blood Donor Day is June 14th. (Image: Getty Images)
Are you going overseas before you plan on donating blood?
In most cases, this is a non-issue, but you may have to wait between four weeks to four months if you're going somewhere where there's a risk of catching malaria, HIV, Dengue fever, Ebola virus, West Nile virus or the Zika virus. Check with your doctor to make sure.
Are you planning on drinking alcohol before donating?
This one is a hard no. You'll be turned around and sent home as if you're intoxicated, you may not be able to answer the donor questionnaire and declaration to your best ability. Plus, being drunk also affects your body's ability to tolerate blood being taken.

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