Paul-Ehrlich-Institut

FAQ - Fre­quent­ly Asked Ques­tions

Blood and Blood Products

Who lays down the rules for exclusion from donating blood?

The inclusion and exclusion criteria for persons intending to donate blood are laid down in the Guidelines Commission (Richtlinienkommission) of the German Medical Association (Bundesärztekammer, BÄK), in which potential blood donors, blood donation services, doctors applying blood and blood products, patients, as well as regulatory authorities (e.g. the Paul-Ehrlich-Institut) are represented. The safety of blood and blood products for blood recipients has top priority for the BÄK's Guideline Commission. All other aspects are subordinated to this requirement.

The individual rules laid down by the Guideline Commission are based on differing epidemiological findings of the Robert-Koch-Institut (RKI) and the assumptions for the risks derived from these findings.

The Haemotherapy Guideline – the guideline issued for the collection of blood and blood components and their use, issued by the German Medical Association in consultation with the Paul-Ehrlich-Institut – reflects the agreement reached by all representatives of interests in the Guideline Commission based on the findings available.

Further Information

Haemotherapy Guideline, Chapter 2.2.4 “Donor Selection” and 2.2.5 “Donor Testing” (German only)

Who is allowed to donate blood and who is not?

People who depend on medicines made from blood rightly demand that everything humanly possible is done to ensure that these medicines are safe and do not pose a health risk.

Only a tightly woven web of different measures can ensure the safety of blood products. These include tests for infectious agents such as HIV, hepatitis B and C, syphilis and malaria as well as the exclusion of certain groups of people from donating blood - either for a certain period of time or permanently. Examples are:

Permanent Exclusion

  • People who have spent a cumulative period of one year in Great Britain (including Northern Ireland) between 1980 and 1996 or who have had surgery there (because of the risk of the variant of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease);
  • people who have received xenotransplants or fresh cells of animal origin;
  • people with certain chronic diseases (partly for their own protection);
  • people who use drugs or abuse medication.

Temporary Exclusion

  • Persons at risk of exposure during special epidemiological situations, such as epidemics or outbreaks, adapted to the relevant situation;
  • persons with close contacts within a domestic community with a risk of infection with hepatitis viruses (HBV, HCV, HAV);
  • persons with sexual behaviour that carries a significantly increased risk of transmission of serious blood-borne infectious diseases compared to the general population;
  • persons who have had tattoos or other cosmetic procedures involving skin or mucous membrane lesions (e.g. pierced ears, piercings, transdermal implants, cutting, branding, permanent make-up).

The complete list of all reasons for exclusion is listed in the hemotherapy guideline in chapter 2.2.4.3 (requirements for donors).

In order to ensure the highest level of safety of blood and blood products, it must be accepted that some people may be unjustifiably excluded from donating blood.

Updated: 24.09.2021