Tattoos and blood donation: fact and fiction

Fotografía por Tom Olmscheid
Photo by  Tom Olmscheid

When I was getting my first tattoo (a while ago) one of my first concerns was precisely the issue of blood donation. I’m a person that loves life and I would eventually like to become a blood donor and perhaps even an organ donor, so before taking any decision about this tattoo I consulted a specialist. So let me tell you about the current issues at the time of donating blooding and having tattoos.

Common myths

If you get a tattoo your blood ends up contaminated and you will never be able to donate neither blood nor organs. So if a relative of yours has any health issue you won’t be able to help them. Blood ends up stained with the tattoo ink and it’s toxic for other people.


Where the do people make up so many fake facts? Reality is so far from this.

Evidently, by getting a tattoo, an amount of ink stays in the blood stream. However, this ink is neither toxic nor stays forever in there. In fact in period of six months most of our blood stream has been renewed, consequently taking the ink out.

Legislation varies from country to country, but nowadays most of them approve tattooed people being blood donors under certain conditions.

Donar sangre con tatuajes

Blood donation if you are tattooed

Spanish, American and Mexican legislations point out that in order to be able to donate blood after getting a tattoo you need to wait at least a year. This is like a public health standard, and also applies in case of getting piercings.

The most important thing here is to prevent blood-borne illnesses such as Hepatitis or Aids. However it is worth mentioning that the latter can remain passive in our bloodstream for about ten years.

And before saying there’s any risk, it is worth clarifying other issues at the time of donating blood. Before that, let me just point out that the year and a half wait can drastically reduce contaminated blood donating risks.


The other process: Checking the blood

Blood banks have a rigorous protocol in order to make sure the blood they receive is clean. This means that after cross-examining donors and extracting the blood, they are tested to make sure the blood is not infected with Hepatitis, HIC, syphilis or other diseases.

At the end of the day, risk is almost none.

So now you know, tattooed people can, in fact, donate blood and also organs, eventually. The only important thing to bear in mind is blood check as required by the country’s legislation.

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