Can Anaemic People Donate Blood?

Anaemia is a condition in which there are insufficient healthy red blood cells to deliver sufficient oxygen to the tissues of the body. Anaemia, also known as low haemoglobin, can result in fatigue and weakness. Therefore, anaemic people cannot give blood because they do not have enough healthy red blood cells to transport enough oxygen to their body's tissues.

Donating blood

Can i donate blood?

Donating blood helps save lives. Blood is necessary for patients to survive surgeries, severe injuries and chronic illnesses. According to NHS Blood and Transplant, nearly 400 more donors are required daily to meet demand. To ensure that those in need have access to the appropriate blood, new blood donors from diverse backgrounds are required. Do you believe you meet the requirements to give blood?

Certain prerequisites must be fulfilled prior to blood donation. If you are in good health, between the ages of 17 and 65, and meet all donor eligibility requirements, you will be able to donate blood. However, you will be unable to donate blood if you have had: most types of cancer; some heart condition; received blood, platelets, plasma, or any blood products after January 1st 1980; tested positive for HIV; and had an organ transplant.1

Your haemoglobin levels are examined each time you arrive to donate blood or platelets. Haemoglobin is a protein present in red blood cells that is necessary for delivering oxygen from the lungs to the tissues as well as giving blood its red colour. Your haemoglobin levels may be too low at times to donate blood. This might be because some of us have a lower amount than others. Iron is required to produce haemoglobin. If your iron reserves are depleted, your haemoglobin levels may fall below normal. To guarantee that you may donate safely, women must have a haemoglobin level of 12.5g/dL and men must have a level of 13.0g/dL.2 

Iron levels and donating blood

Iron deficiency anaemia is one of the most common reasons potential blood donors are refused from donating blood. Many individuals discover they have iron deficiency anaemia after being turned down for blood donation. Iron-deficiency anaemia occurs when our bodies do not have enough iron to create an appropriate amount of red blood cells. This happens when the body's iron reserves, known as ferritin, are depleted. People can also have iron deficiency before developing anaemia; however, many anaemias, such as sickle cell anaemia or folate (B12) deficient anaemia, arise independently of iron insufficiency. 

Sickle cell anaemia is one of several genetic illnesses known collectively as sickle cell disease. It alters the structure of red blood cells which transport oxygen throughout the body. These sickle cells harden and bind together, delaying or stopping blood flow. You will not be able to donate blood if you have sickle cell anaemia. 

Anaemia caused by a shortage of vitamin B12 or B9 (often known as folate) happens when the body produces excessively big red blood cells that cannot function correctly. A lack of vitamins in your diet can lead to vitamin B12 deficiency: if you are vegan; do not take vitamin B12 supplements; or eat foods fortified with vitamin B12. It is recommended that a person with B12 deficient anaemia not donate blood until their therapy for the vitamin B12 deficiency has been finished.

Donating blood while your iron levels are low will cause it to drop further, leaving you weary and dizzy. It also impairs your capacity to produce new red blood cells, which might lead to a lengthier recovery period. A decrease in serum ferritin indicates a decrease in total-body iron concentration. Ferritin is an iron-storing protein found inside your cells.3 It enables your body to utilise iron when it is required. A ferritin test analyses the amount of iron in your blood in an indirect manner. 

Boosting iron levels

Iron is essential because it allows red blood cells to transport oxygen throughout our bodies. Iron-deficiency anaemia can result from a lack of iron.4 As a result, you can feel weary, dizzy, or short of breath. Dietary factors can help prevent and cure iron deficiency anaemia. Iron is best obtained from food as part of a balanced diet, but if the amounts suggested are not met, supplements may be required. However, this should only be explored if you have been diagnosed with iron-deficiency anaemia, as large doses might interfere with nutritional absorption. Iron may be present in both animal and plant-based diets; however, animal-based iron is more easily absorbed by human systems. Drinking tea may impair iron absorption from foods. Vitamin C promotes iron absorption. So, to get the most out of your diet, include vitamin C-rich foods with meals, such as fresh fruits and vegetables, or beverages like fresh orange juice.


If they are in excellent health, most people may donate blood. Several fundamental standards must be met before becoming a blood donor. You cannot give blood if you are anaemic, especially if you have iron-deficiency anaemia. Iron is required for the formation of haemoglobin, a protein found in red blood cells that transports oxygen from the lungs to all regions of the body. Increase your iron intake by including vitamin C rich foods in your diet.


  1. Who can give blood [Internet]. NHS Blood Donation. 2019. Available from:
  2.  Who can give blood [Internet]. Available from:
  3.  Recalcati S, Invernizzi P, Arosio P, Cairo G. New functions for an iron storage protein: The role of ferritin in immunity and autoimmunity. Journal of Autoimmunity. 2008 Feb;30(1-2):84–9.
  4. NHS. Iron Deficiency Anaemia [Internet]. NHS. 2021. Available from:
This content is purely informational and isn’t medical guidance. It shouldn’t replace professional medical counsel. Always consult your physician regarding treatment risks and benefits. See our editorial standards for more details.

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Ambria Pearce

Bachelor of Science - BSc, Neuroscience, University of Sussex, England

Ambria is currently a BSCs Neuroscience student at the University of Sussex. She has a particular interest in the brain-gut connection; where the brain has a direct influence on the stomach and intestines and the neural processes of mental disorders. She intends to further study neuroscience at a Masters's level.

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