Donating Blood In Mexico

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I recently donated blood for a friend who needed surgery at the Instituto Mexicano del Seguro Social (IMSS) hospital on 5 de Febrero here in La Paz. It is common in public hospitals in Mexico to ask surgical candidates to find 2-3 blood donors to help keep the blood bank full. Sometimes they ask for specific blood types and other times they just need donors in general.

At the IMSS hospital, all potential (fasted) donors must arrive between 7:30 – 8:00 in the morning, Monday to Friday. 35 candidates are screened each day with a short interview and a quick blood sample to make sure their blood is safe. After an hour, the candidates are notified if they can donate or not. Usually, on average, only 22 to 24 of the 35 candidates are accepted each day.

A longer, more detailed interview is then administered by a doctor asking questions concerning sexual history, height/weight, medications and medical history. Forms then need to be signed. I specifically asked about tattoos and was informed by the doctor that tattoos are fine as long as they were not done in the past 6 months.

After approval by the doctor, donors are then ushered to a comfortable, leather recliner and 450 ml of blood is drawn and the approximately 2 hour process comes to an end. Afterwards, donors are given a coupon for a free juice and sandwich at the hospital cafeteria and are told to take it easy.

Just to note, women can donate every two months but only 3 times a year. Men may donate every two months but 4 times a year.

Below I have listed the requirements for donating blood at IMSS. Blood can also be donated at the Secretary de Salud and the requirements are similar.

Blood Bank at 5 de Febrero IMSS in La Paz

Monday to Friday (must bring ID)

Requirements to donate blood


  • Weigh at least 50 kilos or 110 pounds
  • Measure at least 1.50 MTS or 4’11”
  • Be of Age 18 to 65
  • 45 days or more from last donation
  • No alcohol or medications in the last 48 hours
  • No cavities
  • No more than 3 pregnancies
  • Slept 6 consecutive hours
  • Fasted for at least the past 4 hours.

People with the following history cannot be donors:

  • Homosexuals
• STD herpes
• HIV+
• Bisexuals
• Cancer or diabetes
• Promiscuous heterosexuals
• Prostitute men or women
• Paid donors
• Intravenous drug use
• Malaria in the last 5 years
• Hepatitis at any stage in life
• Heart problems (insufficiency, hypertension, attacks)
• Epilepsy or convulsive crisis

You cannot donate if you currently:

  • Have infection symptoms (diarrhea, fever, cough, flu)
• Are taking medication

• Are having your period · Women more than 3 months pregnant, lactating or who just had a baby
• Have active allergies

There is also a long list of other conditions that you cannot have.

In the last year

  • Had syphilis or gonorrhea
• Been in contact with a person with hepatitis
• Had gammaglobulin applied
• Had tattoos, acupuncture or diverse punctures/piercings
• Blood transfusions or derivates
• Organ transplant
• Rabies or hepatitis B shots

In the last 6 months

  • Major surgery (3 months for minor)

In the last 28 days

  • Smallpox, tetanus, measles shots

In the last 72 hours

  • Dental extractions
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