Healthcare / Blood Donations in Merida

Blood Donations in Merida

Blood Donations in Merida

26 January 2010 Healthcare 15

Last weekend, we went to visit Gary Neal Brownstein, a reader who wrote to us asking for help in finding blood donors for his upcoming quadruple bypass open heart surgery. His operation will be carried out at the IMSS T1 Hospital here in Merida, the best public hospital in the Yucatan Peninsula. Gary lives in Cancun with his wife Deborah, who is a Mexican citizen, and they have no family here in Merida. In order to have the surgery, they MUST provide six donors of O+ blood, two of whom will be available to give blood on the actual day of the surgery (Friday, January 29).


This week, Gary Neal Brownsteing desperately needs up to six blood donors (O+) in order to start his scheduled surgery. In addition, he needs two of those donors to be able to donate platelets on the day OF the surgery. The only way to know if you can help Gary is to read the requirements below and go on Wednesday morning to get tested.

In order to donate to Gary Neal Brownstein, you must:

  • Have no alcohol 72 hours before donation
  • Be less than 65 years old
  • Weigh over 55 kilos (110 lbs.)
  • Have no history of hepatitis
  • Come on an empty stomach

If you can and will donate your O+ blood, please show up at the IMSS T1 Hospital at 6:45 AM on Wednesday, January 27. Call Deborah on her cel phone: 999-136-2259 or just go straight to the Banco de Sangre (through the main entrance, left at the elevators, the first right, then follow the signs to the back of the building). The T1 hospital is located on the corner of Calle 34 and Calle 41 to the East of the centro, in Colonia Ex terrenos "El Fénix" in Merida.

Gary and his wife Deborah appreciate the volunteers who have contacted them so far, but they need a few more to ensure that Gary can go ahead with his operation, which he urgently needs to have as soon as possible, according to his doctors.

When we saw him on the third floor in the Cardiología section, he was standing up in his blue hospital gown. Though he talked about being very nervous, he looked good and he did smile on occasion. He told us that four other patients on the floor were currently recovering from open heart surgery, which reminded us that Merida is actually known throughout Mexico for having the best cardiologists in the country. None of this will matter, however, if he cannot get enough blood donors to donate to his account... so we urge you to either donate yourself or ask around to your friends and neighbors. According to statistics, 53% of the population in Mexico has O+ blood, so it shouldn't be that difficult!

We wish Gary the best in his upcoming surgery!

Donating blood in Mexico is a more urgent issue than it might be in the United States, as doctors will not do certain life-sustaining surgeries unless the blood donations are already lined up. And blood donations are almost always given for a specific person or event, and catalogued that way, so that there is not a lot of extra supply around to handle emergencies.

As it turns out, blood donations have different requirements in different hospitals around Merida. Bookmark this page for reference, as it will be helpful to know next time you want or need to make a blood donation. In the past, we have been called upon to donate blood to help with various operations of friends, acquaintances and people we hardly know. It's good to have this information around when you need it.


At the StarMedica Hospital, you can donate for a specific patient or you can donate to the general supply. You must bring an official ID when you donate blood, and the following are the additional requirements:

  • Age between 18 and 65 years
  • Weight more than 50 kgs (about 110 lbs.)
  • No alcohol in the last 48 hours
  • No food for the last 8 hours
  • No hypertension or diabetes currently
  • No current infections
  • No history of hepatitis
  • Accessible veins
  • For women who are not pregnant, you must still have your period or have had more than 3 pregnancies including abortions/miscarriages.
  • No surgery in the last 6 months or vaccination in the last 30 days
  • A good night's sleep
  • No tattoos in the last year
  • No history of blood transfusions
  • No multiple sex partners in the last year
  • No alcoholism or drug problem
  • No history of homosexual activity

With your ID, go to the blood bank which is on the ground floor. Since Star Medica does work with reserves, they will take the blood they need or lack at the moment. When we called in January 2010, they were only taking O positive or negative.

Clinica Merida

Clinica Merida only takes donations for a specific person since there are related expenses that someone has to cover. The offices are open between 8:30 to 10:30 am or 2:30 pm to 4:30 pm. Be sure to bring your official ID (passport, driver's license, etc.).

Blood donation requisites are:

  • Older than 18 and younger than 59
  • You cannot donate if you are pregnant or menstruating
  • No current infections
  • Not currently taking medications

Public Blood Donations

If you want to donate blood for anyone who might need it, you need to go to a public hospital. In the case of Hospital O’Horan, here are their requirements:

  • Between 18 and 65 years old
  • More than 50 kgs
  • Be healthy at the moment... no sickness, diarrhea, head cold, etc.
  • No alcohol in the previous 48 hours
  • Not under medication of any kind
  • No recent vaccinations
  • No multiple sex partners in the past year
  • 8 hours of complete fasting and 24 hours of non-fatty meals before donation
  • Women cannot be pregnant, have children under 6 months, be breastfeeding or menstruating
  • Donator receives benefits. You’ll have a free health check-up and be tested for blood type and levels, Hepatitis B and C, HIV, syphilis, brucela and chagas.

You can also donate to Sueños de Angel, an organization that helps children with cancer. They accept blood donations for the children.

General Information

These days, donating blood is a very safe procedure and, according to some, may even be helpful for your health. Men can donate up to four times a year and women three times. Blood donations take ten minutes and they remove 450 milligrams of your blood. If you donate platelets you can do it every third day, since platelets are produced every 24 hours. This procedure takes between 70 and 120 minutes.
All donations are done at Hospital O’Horan at the Centro Estatal de la Transfusion Sanguinea (State Blood Transfusion Center). Their requirements are:

  • Fast for previous 8 hours
  • Age between 18 and 65 years old
  • Weigh more than 50 kgs
  • Good general health
  • No drug addiction
  • Not undergoing medical treatment currently
  • Do not engage in risky sexual practices
  • No history of hepatitis (if you had hepatitis A you can donate after 8 years)
  • No cholesterol, diabetes, hypertension, epilepsy, hemophilia and anemia
  • No infections at the moment
  • You cannot be pregnant, menstruating or breastfeeding
  • You have taken no aspirin for at least 72 hrs
  • You have not had tattoos or piercing in the past 7 months
  • You have not had surgery or transfusions in a year

This hospital will do a free health exam to check that your blood is safe.
For more info here, you can contact
Marcia Lara Ruíz at


  • just me 13 years ago

    It would be helpful to also publish the time during wich the blood banks are open... I went to the "benito Juarez" (T1?) and they were closed, apparently they only receive donations from 7-10 AM (or something like that).

  • Ahanna 13 years ago

    Any place to donate Stem Cells needed for Cancer patients ?

  • Marianne 13 years ago

    Thank you for researching these requirements, which vary by location. Confusion over the rules has kept some eligible donors away; hopefully that is a thing of the past now.

  • Brenda Thornton 13 years ago

    I am very pleased for Gary's donations to have come through and thanks for Joseph Sabido for his generosity. Humanity is a wonderful and glorious thing for us to share anywhere.

  • kathy 13 years ago

    I posted over in the QR forums and on FB just incase. I'll be in Merida this weekend for the 10K, but since I'm A+, I'm not a candidate. What a great response you got to your article!

  • Working Gringos 13 years ago

    Well, there has been a lot of discussion about rules and discrimination around blood donations.

    Meanwhile, you'll be happy to learn that six donors showed up to donate blood for Gary at 6:45 AM this morning, including Yucatan Living's very own Joseph Sabido and a few others who found out about it from Yucatan Living. Gary's surgery is on Friday morning and we expect that it will be successful. We'll keep you posted!

  • Brenda Thornton 13 years ago

    For all of you complaining about the restrictions in Mexico, THOSE SAME QUESTIONS and issues arise in the USA as well. There is a latency period for blood-born diseases, particularly HIV, and a person's sexual history is very, very important in determining if it is safe to take the blood and hope for the best on the latency period. Besides, people lie like crazy about their sexual behavior and sexual preferences. There is currently in the USA an increase in the rate of HIV among the gay community. I am receiving IV Immune Globulin treatment in the U. S. and many donors walk across the border into the U.S. and donate plasma for MONEY.

    As a former CRNA, Advanced Nurse Practitioner and RN, THESE ARE NOT QUESTIONS WHICH ARE BIASED. They are fact and issue-based. I am not prejudiced against people because of their sexual persuasion, but I am ALSO HIGHLY pragmatic about questioning about blood. The blood of the elderly is cut off at a certain point here in the USA as well. People with all kinds of history are rejected. I am very, very concerned that the hospitals there do not stock some blood, however, in the event of an emergency. I did over 900 Open Heart Anesthetics in the USA during my career and a good number of those were emergencies, where waiting could well have resulted in death. As for the overwhelming incidence of O positive blood among Mexicans, I am surprised but it also may be the reason it is difficult to find transplants for those of Mexican descent in the USA and bone marrow transplants, as well. Those who have O positive blood can also take O negative blood in a pinch. O negative is the Univeral Donor, as O blood lacks the A and the B of other blood types, and the postitive trait. Giving negative blood to a positive can be fatal, however. So in a pinch in the USA they transfuse O negative blood, and can safely do it in anyone. Perhaps, the authorities there would consider some O negative donors. Sometimes, it does make it a little difficult to type an individual with A, B, or AB blood, after they have received O negative, but it is not really that big a problem.

    As an AB postive myself, I have also received blood, fresh frozen plasma, and platelets during surgery, and before becoming ill, I donated for patients and for storage when I could. In the USA, whole blood is rarely transfused. After donation, the plasma, platelets and other things are spun off, to be used for other things and patients usually receive packed red cells and then they receive IV fluids to fill in the volume They also spin off factor 8 for hemophiliacs.

    Some things which will get you turned away in the USA is having visited foreign countries where malaria is prevalent, whether one has been on the meds or not, having traveled to areas where other blood-born diseases and parasites are prevalent, such as Africa, and some Central and South American countries, and many Asian countries. If it has been awhile since the visit, and you have been tested for the things most often contracted, the ban can be lifted. My son worked in Angola last year for four months and he is persona non grata for blood transfusions for over a year. Another friend, who donated every three months because he has that dear O negative was banned for two years because he visited the interior of Belize for just one day.

    ALAN is correct in that blood type does not matter for platelet collection. They remove the blood from one arm and spin the blood and spin off the platelets or platelets and plasma, and then return the the RBC to the donor. So if any of you would like to donate plasma or platelets, since most cardiac surgeons like to have some on hand, then do so, and Thank You for your generosity.

  • Alan 13 years ago

    Too bad Mexico imposes irrational rules, such as an upper age limit of 65. The American Red Cross, which has plenty of restrictions of its own, imposes no upper age limit as long as the person is "well." See:,1082,0_557_,00.html (copy the url into your browser to see it).

    As for O+, I thought, perhaps incorrectly, that blood type wasn't critical for platelet collection. I'd be happy to donate, incl. Friday, but am 66 and an A+.

  • Jan 13 years ago

    I donated recently at Star Medica, and they asked me if I had had multiple sexual partners, or if my husband had had multiple sexual partners... they added this for heteros, so they are not discriminating, just choosing their words in a different manner!

  • Dan 13 years ago

    Regarding Ed's question about intrusive questions, Star Medica asks if you currently have more than two sexual partners, if you have visited prostitutes as well as homosexual activity.

  • Marc 13 years ago

    My son contacted AIDS from a blood transfusion that was tainted from blood donations from individuals with a different life style. He died at the age of 32 in
    the year 2000, so my wife and I can understand the Star Medica restrictions. Doctors told us that it is very difficult to test for all viruses in blood so precaution is the best prevention. Kudos to Star Medica.

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