Blood donation: dispelling a myth

Eligibility for blood donation in Canada is constantly evolving. For many years, the sexual partners of people with bleeding disorders were deferred from blood donation. This began in the 1980s when coagulation factors were less safe. The deferral was removed by Health Canada several years ago.

Canadian Blood Services’ Medical Director, Dr. Mindy Goldman, confirmed to the CHS that the sexual partners of people who receive pathogen-reduced, virally inactivated products such as clotting factor concentrates (plasma-derived or recombinant) are eligible to donate. Of course, they would need to meet the donor qualification criteria in the same way as other prospective donors.

On the other hand, the sexual partners of those who receive fresh blood components—red cells, platelets or plasma for transfusion—are deferred for a period of six months after the partner was transfused. This distinction recognizes that fresh components do not undergo the same rigourous pathogen reduction processes … at least, not yet. People actually receiving those transfusions of fresh components are also deferred for six months.

This leaves the group of people who themselves infuse with pathogen-reduced blood products, that is, people with hemophilia, von Willebrand disease, and some of the rare factor deficiencies. Can they donate? Health-related questions in the donor questionnaire would reveal the existence of a bleeding disorder. The abnormally low level of a coagulation factor—factor I, II, V, VII, VIII, IX, X, XI, XIII or von Willebrand factor—are a reason for deferral as the potential recipient of the transfusion may well need that coagulation factor. People with a bleeding disorder are not eligible to donate.

Only a very small percentage of the Canadian population donate. The CHS encourages all those who are eligible to donate to become regular donors of blood or plasma. Both Canadian Blood Services and Héma-Québec need new donors every year. This is in the interest of all Canadian patients.


For more on blood donation, please click on the following links:

Canadian Blood Services



The complete donor questionnaires from Canadian Blood Services and Héma-Québec can be viewed at:

Donor questionnaire – Canadian Blood Services

Donor questionnaire – Héma-Québec