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Tattoos and health professionals...


The last few weeks I've learned some very sobering things:

1. If you can avoid getting a blood transfusion, by all means do so. Here are the reasons:

A. Someone with HIV can give blood when in the first few weeks of

infection because tests available are not sensitive enough (or there

isn't enough Antibody--take your choice) to detect it.

B. Diseases can exist in the blood supply that we don't even know

about, or know enough to check for them. I believe this is what

happened with some of the "newer" forms of hepatitis.

C. (My comment) We don't know how all diseases are transmitted, or

even what possible problems might lurk in donated blood. And we

never really will. This is why, I was told, that they don't treat

anemia with blood until the hematocrit is below 25%. (Thank God

for epogen!)

2. If you have had a tattoo, you cannot give blood for at least 12 months.

3. That they have discovered that it is not enough for the tattoo artist to

change their needles; apparently they must change the tubing and dye

cartridge, as the hepatitis viruses have been found to survive there.

I just discovered, after 54 years, that I can give blood. I thought that, because I had had hep A when 5 that I would never be able to give. One thing is clear: if you are getting tattoos, you aren't (or shouldn't be) giving blood--at least for 12 months.

While I have no objections to tattoos in and of themselves (or piercings), both seem to carry potential for disease transmission--and some pretty nasty diseases at that. While I can understand tattoos before entering a health care profession...I'd like to think after entering that health care professionals would want to donate blood as often as possible, if not prevented for other reasons (weighing under 110#, having a SBP

(I will admit, however, that I felt that my Dad was a dedicated health professional, an Optometrist--very involved in his profession, which he practiced for 50(!) years...but never knew him, or anyone in my family, to donate blood.)

Okay...let the flames begin!!!! :) :) :)


PS -- please note that I post this because I can only see my viewpoint; I am inviting and encouraging others of a differing viewpoint to post--PLEASE! That way I learn more and understand more...Thanks!!!!

I've been giving blood since I was 16, other than a hiatus when I found out my (now ex-) husband was a sex addict and had been consorting with prostitutes. I lost count of how much after I gave my first gallon.

I have the same feelings as you about giving blood, but even health care pros can really, really dislike being stuck. :) And I know a few who will pass out if THEY are the stickee and not the sticker.


Specializes in ICU/CCU/CVICU/ED/HS.

I am a Desert Storm vet and have been told that the Red Cross doesn't want my blood!!!!!!!...BUT!!!!!!We weren't exposed to anything:rolleyes: ...YEAH...RIGHT!!!

I donate blood every 2 months, unless there is a reason that I am unable. I also donate platelets through the RedCross apheresis program. You can donate platelets 2x a month.

I challenge all readers and members of this bulletin board who are able to doanate blood to do so this Holiday Season, amd also in 2005.

You can do it!!!!!


Has 18 years experience.

Lived in the UK in the 80's (no, Im not really that old) and due to madcow and CJD I'm now person non gratia for the Cdn Red Cross.


memphispanda, RN

Specializes in Med-Surg.

The title of this thread is really a bit misleading.

Let me clear up a bit about tattoos...

First, I believe that most people are well aware that there are restrictions on donating blood following getting a tattoo. That alone isn't going to stop many people from having a tattoo done. I have never been able to donate blood because either my hct is too low or they can't get a line in me. So now I don't try.

Second, the risk of transmission of a blood borne disease when getting a tattoo from a reputable shop is extremely low. There is no "ink cartrige". A reputable shop will use new needles on each person--and sometimes multiple new needles depending on the size of the tattoo and different types of details of the work. They also will use individual ink wells that are discarded after use. If one chooses to not look into these details prior to getting work done then they may be at a higher risk. I believe that the majority of tattoo transmitted diseases are coming from jailhouse tattoos and garage tattoos--not from your neighborhood tattoo shop.


Specializes in O.R., Endo, Med-Surge, Mgtmt., Psyche. Has 19 years experience.

same for my husband. however, he viewed medical records of his from the military and guess what? no record of about 1/2 the vaccines he received. i think with all this controversy, the blood banks are wise to reject it. it's pretty crappy though that not only do you not even really know what you were injected with, your records have disappeared.

i am a desert storm vet and have been told that the red cross doesn't want my blood!!!!!!!...but!!!!!!we weren't exposed to anything:rolleyes: ...yeah...right!!!

I can't donate blood anyways, and I do have a tattoo and would challenge anyone to show that getting a tattoo from a reputable place is more dangerous than having sex with your husband (considering the staggering rates of infidelity nowadays). I wouldn't live a monk's life just so I could give blood.

SICU Queen

Specializes in SICU. Has 16 years experience.

I've donated blood in the past. I have a tattoo as well, and plan on getting more.

I won't donate after I get my next tattoo only because it's not accepted. My tattoist and his shop are very reputable, and his equipment and technique are impeccable.

I believe that EVERYONE, not only health care professionals, should consciously make an effort to help their fellow man in whatever way possible. If this involves giving blood, then great. If it's in another way, that's fine too.

This original post on this thread smacked of judgement and condescension to me. I don't need anyone telling me how to live my life. Thanks anyway...

TiffyRN, ADN, BSN, PhD

Specializes in NICU. Has 28 years experience.

I have only just recently found out that I might be acceptable as a donor. I was always told that since I had Hep A as a kid I was disqualified but apparently some banks are making exceptions if you were younger than 5 or it's been so many years. I read this off the local blood bank's standards. I also found out I'll probably be ineligible until June because I took a trip to an area with malaria (even though I took the meds). Oh well, I'll check again with them in June. I've always wanted to donate blood.

I'm personally not against tattoos (back to original topic). My husband has 2 he got after we got married. He would love for me to have one but I'm chicken about the needles, the pain and just that uncomfortable feeling that some virus might get through (even though the place my husband used was very reliable and tossed EVERYTHING in the presence of the customer).

not now, RN

Specializes in LTC, med-surg, critial care. Has 3 years experience.

My tattoo artist is also a really good friend of mine with a good reputation. I would trust that guy with my life, he's a good guy that would do anything for me. I watch him change and open everything during the process.

Currently I am too thin to donate blood but back when I was bigger I refused to donate. Nope, no way, not happening.

live4today, RN

Specializes in Community Health Nurse.

Something I've always wanted to know.........Can a person with Herpes Simplex 1 or 2 give blood?


Specializes in LTC, assisted living, home-care. Has 8 years experience.

please phone the american red cross with any questions you have about donating blood. i have a tattoo and waited the 12 months before i donated after receiving it. i am pleased to have received my 3 gallon pin last donation. total gallons for my family are now 14 plus gallons. please consider the low supply for the holidays and give from your heart. god bless each of you.

Marie_LPN, RN, LPN, RN

Specializes in 5 yrs OR, ASU Pre-Op 2 yr. ER.

Would the Red Cross website have anything on it about the questions posted here?

In my opinion, I don't think tattoos make you a "nasty person". You have to have some smarts about it. I have a tattoo, and have tried to donate blood when I was in college, but could not because I am too thin and have too many health problems ( not caused by the tattoo I might add, caused by kidney failure). I also, don't think it is necessarily a "responsibility" so to speak of healthcare workers to try to donate blood. I think that is a personal decision. You are in this line of work to help people, just as some nurses might like to work in say nursing homes and others in pediatrics, everyone one of us is different in the things we do and do not like. Some people might like donating blood, others might not! To each his own! We all have our preferences, I don't think the title of the job obligates you to donate blood, it does however obligate you to take care of patients. I can understand how donating blood is important, as I have tried to myself, but I do not think it is necessarily a responsibility.


Specializes in Critical Care, Cardiac Cath Lab. Has 6 years experience.

I am donating blood the day before Thanksgiving (at the American Red Cross), and it will be my 16th donation--my two-gallon!

I have a tattoo that is extremely meaningful to me. My only hesitation in getting it was that I had to refrain from donating blood for a year per the "rules" at the ARC. I am not, nor was I, concerned about contracting a disease by getting a tattoo. I got my tattoo at a reputable shop that uses brand new needles, ink, gloves, etc. for each person.

More often than not I have found that it is unavoidable things that keep people from dontaing blood who really want to. A blood transfusion saved my fathers life, so I couldn't wait until i was old enough to donate;

The I got malaria (long story)- whoops, couldn't donate for three years

One donation after that i got cancer

now cant donate until 2008.

Would have much rather gotten a tattoo :-)

Would the Red Cross website have anything on it about the questions posted here?

Just do a search on "donating blood" and go to the ARC site that pops up under google. I think there is a link on the first page that will take you to an FAQ about donating. I'm not sure that it will answer EVERY question, though.

The question the bloodbank asked me that I thought was most amusing was "am I donating blood in order to get checked for HIV?" (Huh?!?!)


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