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Reasons for deferral

A deferral is a waiting period applied when a donor does not qualify to donate within the specified time period due to various health related issues.

Not feeling well, sore throat, cold, respiratory infection, flu, cold sore

  • Can donate when symptom-free (about 7 days).

Antibiotics (except antibiotics for acne)

  • 7 days after treatment is over.


  • No waiting period providing that procedure was done under sterile conditions.

Piercings, tattoos, permanent make-up

  • 3 months

Pregnancy and breastfeeding

  • 3 months following a normal delivery and 3 months following delivery by Caesarean Section.
  • Mothers who breastfeed can return once breastfeeding has been stopped.

Routine dental work

  • 1 day

Complicated dental work

  • 3 days

Major surgery work

  • Any procedure that required the donor to stay in hospital for one or more nights.
  • Any procedure where a scope was used, including gastroscopies, colonoscopies, arthroscopies and laparoscopies.
  • Come back three 3 months, provided there are no complications.
  • Minor Surgery: any procedure that was performed in the doctor’s rooms or as a day procedure in hospital.
  • Come back two 2 weeks from date of procedure.
  • If you received blood or blood products you may not donate 3 months later.
  • PS: there are exceptions to the above rule (brain and cardiac surgery, etc.) Contact the donor centre for acceptability criteria

Taking Aspirin

  • No waiting period for donating blood, but 7 days before donating platelets.


  • 3 years after completing treatment.

Travelled to a malaria area

  • 4 weeks after returning from malaria area.

Grew up in a malaria area outside South Africa

If the time absent from the area is

  • More than 3 years (no visits back to the area) the donor is permitted to donate if they fit all the criteria.
  • Less than 3 years (the donor has revisited the malaria area within the 3 years even after having donated); they must wait for another 3 years.

Low iron level

  • 3 to 6 months, depending on iron level.


  • Hepatitis A (yellow jaundice): One year after recovery. Needs a doctor’s letter to confirm, unless donor had yellow jaundice before age 13.
  • Hepatitis B & C: Permanent deferral.

Donors over the age of 75 years

  • New donors are now accepted up to age 75 years of age.
  • For their protection, regular donors have up to their 74th birthday to bring a letter from their own doctor stating their medication (if any) and that they are fit and well to donate blood. It is recommended that donors over the age of 65 donate no more frequently than 4 times a year.


  • In most cases, medication will not disqualify you as a blood donor. Bring your medication (or name of medication) with you and please check with the sister-in-charge of the clinic for clarification.
  • As long as the condition is under control (and for blood pressure medication you have been on the same medication for at least 4 weeks), blood donation is usually permitted.

Comprehensive list of deferrals

Click here for a complete list of deferrals.

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Thank you for trying

SANBS would like to thank you for taking the time to donate blood, though we understand that you are disappointed. However, the organisation’s medical division operates according to guidelines intended to protect health and safety of donors and recipients of blood.

The guidelines determine whether a potential donor will be allowed to give blood. Individuals who do not comply with the acceptance criteria for blood donation will be deferred.

Deferral may either be temporary or permanent. Fortunately, most deferrals are temporary and donors are encouraged to return at a later date.

Even if you are not eligible to donate blood at this time, you tried and you should take pride in your endeavour. If the reason for your deferral is not permanent, please return to donate blood once your deferral period is over. Your blood donation makes a difference.


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