Donors with fresh tattoos no longer have waiting period before they can give blood

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Historically, if you received a tattoo within a year, you were not allowed to donate blood, but that has recently changed.

Individuals with tattoos used to have to wait 12 months before donating blood to protect against the spread of disease caused by needles used at tattoo parlors.

In theory, you can now get inked up and have your blood drawn on the same day.

"If you recently received a tattoo as long as it was done within a certified California tattoo facility, which is most of them, then you're able to come in and donate with no deferral time what so ever," said Ersilia Lacaze.

Officials with the Central California Blood Center are hoping to welcome in a whole new group of blood donors with ink.

"Tattoos have become more and more acceptable so you have a lot of folks who enjoy having body art so we had a substantial population of people that we couldn't access before," Lacaze said. "So we're very excited, and it'll give a nice little bump in people who are able to come in."

The timing to lift the deferral ban couldn't come at a better time, the blood center typically sees a drop off in donations this time of year due to summer travel and other plans.

"Locally and nationally there's a shortage every year from Memorial Day to Labor Day and it's just a natural phenomenon," said Chris Staub.

California tattoo shops are heavily regulated by the state, which helped the FDA to ease the decades-old waiting period for those with fresh body art.

"We're less evasive than a dentist, and you can donate blood the day after you go to the dentist," said tattoo artist Andrew Thaxter.

Andrew Thaxter at Contra Tattoo in Fresno's Tower District has been tatting up clients for the last 13 years and says its about time changes were made to the blood donor restrictions.

"The health board is regulating so much and doing their part and making sure all professional tattoo shops stay clean and sterile, which is great just for getting a tattoo much less the potential for donating blood," he said.

The FDA has also revised its policy on banning gay men from making blood donations.

The Central California Blood Center is now working to update its software and paperwork to reflect those changes.
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