Can You Donate Blood If You Have A Tattoo?

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can you donate blood if you have a tattoo

We love tattoos. Whether it’s tats that are minimalistic, are a quote from our favorite book, or act as a bond of unconditional love between friends, we can all agree — well, most of us — that tattoos are a great form of personal expression. Though some people have one and others have dozens, if you're a tattoo person (and not everyone is; that's okay), nothing can compare with the joy we get from getting one.

Another thing that can bring us happiness is by helping other people. While many volunteer for local organizations or donate money, others find that giving back comes in the form of blood donations.

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But can you donate blood if you have a tattoo? This can be a tricky thing for people who love body ink but also want to help their fellow citizens.

Yes, people with tattoos can give blood, but there are certain criteria they must follow, as there are a list of eligibility requirements. Because some states don’t have regulations — Washington D.C., New York, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Idaho, Georgia, Nevada, Massachusetts, Maryland, Utah, and Wyoming — you may need to wait as long as a year before donation.

Why do you have to wait? Well, in state-regulated facilities, they use sterile needles and unused ink. Who knows what could be going on behind closed doors in unregulated tattoo parlors? It’s all for the safety of the public because god forbid someone contracted a disease, the American Red Cross would be in deep trouble.

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According to the American Red Cross, this requirement has to do with preventing hepatitis. “A tattoo is acceptable if the tattoo was applied by a state-regulated entity using sterile needles and ink that is not reused. Cosmetic tattoos applied in a licensed establishment in a regulated state using sterile needles and ink that is not reused is acceptable,” the organization says.

So, let’s say you got a tattoo in an unregulated state and still want to donate blood. What can you do?

Well, the most helpful thing you can do is schedule an appointment for a later date at a blood drive near you. No, you won’t be able to give blood right away but if you really are dedicated to helping others, this is a great way to do so.

Because blood donations are always needed, both in times of crisis and in everyday hospital needs, you may very well be saving a life. Someone in the United States requires a blood transfusion every two seconds (yes, seconds!), so thinking ahead is invaluable.

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Samantha Maffucci is an associate editor for YourTango. In her free time, you can find her obsessing about cats, wine, and all things Vanderpump Rules.