Can Felons Donate Plasma?


Matthew McClain

Felons Can Lose The Privilege To Donate Plasma

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates the collection of blood and plasma products to ensure a safe blood supply. The FDA has established rules to prevent transmission of infectious diseases through donated blood and plasma. These rules prohibit blood and plasma donation by some individuals, including felons, for a period of time after incarceration.

The FDA’s deferral period for felons aims to screen out donors who may have been exposed to higher rates of infectious diseases, such as hepatitis B and C, HIV, and syphilis, during incarceration. In correctional facilities, these diseases spread more easily due to factors like shared needles, tattoos, and high-risk sexual behavior.

To reduce this risk, the FDA prohibits felons from donating blood or plasma for 12 months after being released from a correctional facility where they were detained for more than 72 consecutive hours. This deferral period applies to all types of correctional facilities, including:

  • Prisons: State and federal prisons where individuals serve sentences over one year.
  • Jails: Local facilities that hold individuals before trial or those with sentences less than one year.
  • Juvenile detention centers: Facilities for minors who have been accused or convicted of criminal offenses.
  • Work release programs: Incarceration alternatives where individuals are allowed to work or attend school while spending nights and weekends in jail.

After felons have completed the 12-month deferral period following their release, they may become eligible to donate blood or plasma again, as long as they meet other donor requirements. However, individual plasma donation centers make their own determinations about accepting felons as donors.


While the FDA prohibits felons from donating blood or plasma for 12 months after incarceration, there are some exceptions to this rule. Certain types of felony convictions may allow individuals to qualify for plasma donation sooner:

  • Non-violent, white-collar crimes: Felons convicted of non-violent offenses like fraud, embezzlement, or tax evasion may become eligible to donate plasma sooner. Plasma centers evaluate these types of crimes on a case-by-case basis and often allow donation within 6 to 12 months after release.
  • Community corrections programs: Individuals who served felony time in halfway houses, home confinement, or community service programs, rather than traditional prisons or jails, may also be exempt from the full 12-month deferral period. Since these alternative programs have lower disease risk profiles, some donors can qualify within 3 to 6 months after completing the program.

However, plasma donation centers make the final determination about a felon’s eligibility to donate. While generally following FDA guidelines, individual companies also implement their own donor screening procedures and criminal history policies. Certain centers have a zero tolerance policy for any type of felony, even non-violent crimes.

Other factors plasma centers consider include:

  • Time since conviction: Felons with convictions further in the past may be viewed more favorably, though time thresholds vary by center.
  • Type of crime: Violent offenses, sexual crimes and drug charges typically result in permanent deferral. Non-violent financial crimes are viewed more leniently.
  • Behavior since release: Evidence of rehabilitation efforts, employment and community engagement can support earlier donation eligibility.
  • Full disclosure: Honesty about a criminal record is critical. Failure to disclose any felony can lead to permanent banning from all plasma donation centers.

Ultimately, donations from felons within 12 months of incarceration pose some risks. Even if eligible under a plasma center’s policy, recently released felons may not have been adequately screened for infections that take time to detect. Still, there are documented cases of centers making exceptions on a case-by-case basis for certain donors. Individuals must check each company’s specific policies.

Things to Consider

There are several important things for felons to consider before donating plasma.

1. Criminal background checks

Most plasma centers conduct criminal background checks on potential donors during the application process. Failure to disclose a felony conviction during registration, even an old one, can lead to permanent deferral from donating at all centers. Honesty is critical.

2. Zero tolerance policies

Many plasma donation companies have zero tolerance policies for all felony convictions, regardless of the type of crime or time since the offense. Individual review and exceptions are rare. Some centers are more lenient toward non-violent financial crimes.

3. Risk of infection

Even if permitted by a center’s policy, donating plasma too soon after incarceration could potentially introduce infections into the blood supply. Some diseases like HIV can take several months to show up on standard tests. This risk is higher for recent felons due to potential exposure in correctional facilities.

4. Legal implications

Federal law prohibits the acceptance of plasma from donors who should be deferred under FDA guidelines. However, some centers will still accept donations on a case-by-case basis, potentially putting them at risk of legal action if infections are transmitted.

5. Potential stigma

Some felons may feel unwelcome or uncomfortable donating at plasma centers due to fears of discrimination and judgment. The process could potentially cause anxiety or trigger traumatic memories of the criminal justice system. Donors should consider their mental health needs.

6. Alternative ways to give back

For felons ineligible to donate plasma, there remain many prosocial ways to positively contribute to society, like volunteering, community service and mentorship programs. Regular employment is also critical for successful reentry into the community.

7. Financial motivations

While donating plasma helps address the demand for plasma products, some felons may be motivated primarily by the compensation provided. Centers should screen for donors exhibiting unhealthy financial dependencies that could undermine donation safety.

8. Income limitations

Many felons face obstacles finding gainful employment with a criminal record. Plasma donation provides a viable source of income, but compensation may be restricted for welfare and public benefits recipients. Centers should educate donors on these policies.

9. No guarantees

Even if a felon meets all the criteria to donate, individual plasma donation companies maintain full rights to accept or refuse any donor at their discretion. Meeting guidelines does not guarantee the ability to donate. Centers also retain the right to remove a donor’s eligibility at any time.

In summary, felons face barriers to donating plasma due to regulations aiming to protect the safety and reliability of the blood supply. The FDA requires a 12-month deferral period after incarceration to screen for exposures to infectious diseases that are more common among prisoner populations.

While there are some exceptions for felons convicted of non-violent crimes or who served time in community corrections programs, individual plasma centers make the ultimate determination about donor eligibility based on their own screening policies. Many centers have zero tolerance policies for all felony convictions.

Felons considering donating plasma sooner than 12 months should carefully weigh the potential risks to donation safety against their motivations for donating. Full transparency and compliance with FDA guidelines is vital to ensure an ethical and legal donation process that maintains donor and recipient wellbeing as top priorities.

For ineligible felons, focusing efforts on rehabilitation, employment and community service can channel energy into more prosocial avenues that positively impact society. There remain many ways for individuals to give back and contribute beyond plasma donation.


1. Can misdemeanors prevent plasma donation?

No, misdemeanor convictions like DUIs and petty theft generally do not prevent individuals from donating plasma. The FDA only recommends deferrals for felonies.

2. How long after felony probation can I donate?

The FDA requires individuals to typically wait 12 months after being released from any correctional facility. This includes completing probation, parole or supervised release.

3. Can a pardon restore my ability to donate plasma?

While a pardon may restore an individual’s legal eligibility under FDA guidelines, individual plasma donation centers can still implement their own screening policies and potentially deny donors. A pardon does not guarantee acceptance.

4. Are donations truly anonymous?

Donations are processed as “anonymously tested” donations to preserve donor confidentiality. However, plasma centers do maintain donor records for tracking purposes, product recall needs and to ensure donors meet eligibility criteria for each donation. Full anonymity is not possible.

5. What types of felonies disqualify donors?

Violent crimes, sexual offenses and drug felonies typically lead to permanent deferral from donating plasma. Some centers also reject all types of felony convictions while others make exceptions for non-violent financial crimes. Policies vary by company.

Leave a Comment

Plasma Tx

901 N Broad St Suite 120
Rome, Georgia 30161

Donate Today