A popular myth in Africa has it that if you have a tattoo, you will not be able to donate blood. How true is this hearsay?
According to Wikipedia, A tattoo is a form of body alteration where a design is made by inserting ink, dyes and pigments, either indelible or temporary, into the dermis layer of the skin to modify the pigment.
Tattoos fall into three classes:
Purely decorative (with no specific meaning);
Symbolic (with a specific meaning pertinent to the wearer), and
Pictorial (a depiction of a specific person or item).
What does Blood Donation mean?
A blood donation occurs when a person voluntarily has blood drawn and used for transfusions and/or made into biopharmaceutical medications by a process called fractionation.
Donation may be of whole blood, or specific components directly, and the blood banks often participate in the collection process as well as the procedures that follow it.
Why it’s done?
Millions of people need blood transfusions every day. Some may need blood during surgery, delivery etc. Others depend on it after an accident or because they have a disease that requires blood components.
Blood donation makes all of this possible. There is no alternative for human blood at the moment so all transfusions use blood from a donor
So, you agree to have blood drawn so that it can be given to someone who needs a blood transfusion. Although there’s a laid down process before this can be done.
Back to the real gist, Can you donate blood after getting a tattoo?
If you have a tattoo, you can only donate blood if you meet certain requirements. A good rule of thumb is that you may not be able to give blood if your tattoo is less than a year old.
This goes for piercings and all other non-medical injections on your body, too. Introducing ink, metal, or any other extraneous material into your body affects the immune system and may expose you to deadly viruses.
This can affect what’s in your bloodstream, especially if you got your tattoo somewhere that isn’t regulated or doesn’t follow safe practices. If there’s a chance that your blood has been compromised, the donation centre won’t be able to use it.
Why the temporary restrictions on donating blood?
The limitations on who can donate blood and when are in place to help protect recipients from potentially dangerous diseases. People who need blood transfusions may already be very sick, and contracting a contagious disease could kill them.
Regulations also protect blood donors. Some people, such as those with anaemia, could experience adverse symptoms from donating blood.
Why you’re not eligible to donate blood if your ink, tattoo or piercing is less than a year old. See reason below;
Giving blood after recently getting a tattoo can be dangerous. Though uncommon, an unclean tattoo, piercing or ink needle can carry several bloodborne infections, such as:
Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)
Other conditions that may make you ineligible to donate blood include:
Bleeding conditions. You may be eligible with a bleeding condition as long as you don’t have any blood clotting issues.
Blood transfusion. You can be eligible after 12 months of receiving a transfusion.
Immunizations. Immunization rules vary. You may be eligible 4 weeks after vaccines for measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR), chickenpox, and shingles. You may be eligible 21 days after a hepatitis B vaccine and 8 weeks after a smallpox vaccine. Kindly speak with a medical professional before you go ahead.
Cancer. Your eligibility depends on the type of cancer. You need to talk to your doctor before donating blood.
High or low blood pressure. You’re ineligible if you get above a 180/100 reading or below a 90/50 reading.
Heart murmur. You may be eligible after six months of no symptoms of a heart murmur.
Dental or oral surgery. You may be eligible three days after surgery.
Infections. You may be eligible 10 days after ending an antibiotic injection treatment.
Intravenous (IV) drug use. You’re not eligible if you’ve ever used IV drugs without a prescription.
Malaria. You may be eligible three years after treatment for malaria or 12 months after travelling to where malaria is common
Pregnancy. You’re ineligible during pregnancy, but may be eligible six weeks after giving birth. You can as well speak with your doctor.
Sexually transmitted diseases, such as syphilis and gonorrhoea. You may be eligible one year after treatment for certain STIs ends.
Tuberculosis. You may be eligible once the tuberculosis infection is successfully treated.
Zika virus. You may be eligible 120 days
The bottom line
Getting a tattoo or a piercing doesn’t make you ineligible to donate blood if you wait a year or follow the proper precautions to get a safe and sterile tattoo at a regulated facility. Although, some countries have strict regulations concerning the subject matter.
See your doctor if you think you have any other conditions that may make you ineligible to donate blood or call the authority responsible for blood donation to confirm your eligibility, before and after you get your tattoo.