1 minute readBlood, Fun

Red Cross Myth Busters: Tattoos and Blood Donation

By April Oppliger, American Red Cross

Drew Thomas began giving blood when he was in college, but when he started getting tattoos, he assumed he could no longer give. That’s a common myth – one that Drew is hoping to help to dispel by hosting blood drives at the tattoo studio he owns.

“I hear it all the time – that people think that they can’t give blood because of their tattoos,” said Drew. “As someone who applies tattoos, I want to do my part to debunk that myth and give people an opportunity to help hospital patients.”

So, what are the facts about tattoos and giving blood?

How long do I have to wait to give blood after getting a tattoo?

In most states, you may be eligible to give blood immediately after getting ink as long as the tattoo was applied by a state-regulated entity using sterile needles and ink that is not reused.

Are there any states where I can’t give blood after getting ink?

Currently, the only states that DO NOT regulate tattoo facilities are Georgia, Idaho, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania, Utah and Wyoming, as well as the District of Columbia. This doesn’t mean you can’t give blood, just that you might have a deferral period. Potential donors should discuss their particular situation with the health historian at the time of donation through the Red Cross.

What if I got my tattoo in one of the states that doesn’t regulate tattoo facilities?

While your tattoo may be permanent, the deferral isn’t. If your tattoo was applied in one of the 11 states that do not regulate tattoo facilities, you must wait 3 months before donating blood. This requirement is related to concerns about hepatitis. Learn more about hepatitis and blood donation.

To learn more about eligibility criteria for donating blood, visit redcrossblood.org or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).

So, roll up a sleeve, show us your ink and give the gift of life.