Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Can you donate plasma if you're under 18 years old?

Q: Can you donate plasma if you're under 18? My brother is 16, and he wants to go with me to the plasma center. Thanks.

A: Generally no, you can't donate plasma if you're under 18 years old. The Food and Drug Administration oversees plasma donations. Their rules are:

  • You must be 18
  • You can't have cold, flu, or respiratory infection when you donate
  • You can't have certain STDs (like HIV, or Hepatitis)
  • You have to be in generally good health
  • You have to weigh 110 pounds or more

There are some exceptions, though, and I'll list them below based on the donation age:

14 And Under

Sorry, you can't donate plasma. Even if you look older, you can't like on the plasma donation test, either, because plasma centers will ask you for and original copy of your SSN and ID card.

Age 14

There's one state that allows plasma donors to donate at age 14 and older - and that's TX. Texas state legislature stated in 2009 that 14 year olds can donate plasma with an accompanying guardian present, and express written permission from the parents or guardian. But you must weigh over 110 pounds - this minimum weight is another rule for donating plasma.

Age 15

You're getting closer! At age 15, you can donate plasma (with permission from their parents of course) in TX, HI, MI, CO, and UT. 

Age 16 

In addition to the above states, minors 16 and older can donate plasma (again, with parental guardian permission) in IL, WY, MT, VI, OH, VT, NC, SC, and RI.

Age 17

Most states (excluding MD, NY, and FL) allow 17 year olds to donate without written permission within 3 months of turning 18 years old. Before age 17 and 3/4, though, you still need your parents to sign your permission slip.

Still, even if you're 17, plasma centers (like CSL) can make their own rules about minors being allowed to donate or not, so call first.

Age 18

Yes, you've finally made it! Since you're not a minor anymore, you can donate plasma freely, right?

But believe it or not, there's one state - Georgia - that won't let you donate plasma until you're 21 years old. The reasons are unclear (perhaps donating plasma is immoral for 18-20 year olds?) But nonetheless, rules are rules. If you live in Georgia, turned 18, and want to donate plasma, consider moving to Alabama or Florida (or really, any other state) that has more sensible plasma donation policies.

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