The answer to the question “can a diabetic donate blood?” depends on where you live really.
Blood donation is an honorable way to help others. Blood donations help people who need transfusions for many types of medical conditions and you can make a difference especially in cases like not enough blood supplies in hospitals or rare blood types.
The American Red Cross says that every two seconds someone requires blood. We all know that donating blood is a noble thing to do. However, the donation of blood assumes a cooperative body and a donation system that will accept the blood running through your body.
A pint of donated blood can help up to three people. Although in some countries you are allowed to donate blood if you have diabetes, there are some requirements that you will need to meet.
If you suffer from diabetes and want to donate blood, it is generally safe to do so. People with type 1 and type 2 diabetes are eligible to donate blood in some countries, in others, people taking insulin can’t donate blood. We will mention some countries that allow or don’t allow blood donations from diabetics further in this article.
You should have your condition under control and be healthy, otherwise, before donating blood.
Having diabetes under control means maintaining healthy blood sugar levels. This requires you to be vigilant about your diabetes daily. You need to be aware of your blood sugar level throughout the day and make sure you eat a proper diet and exercise enough. Living a healthy lifestyle will help maintain your blood sugar level in a healthy range. Your doctor may also prescribe certain medicines to help you manage your diabetes. These medicines should not affect your ability to donate blood.
If you want to donate blood, but are worried about your diabetes, talk to your doctor before donating. They can answer any question and help you determine if this is the best option for you.
What can I expect during the donation process?
Health screening – Blood donation centers have a screening process that requires you to disclose any pre-existing health conditions. It is also a time when a certified professional will evaluate you and measure your basic vital statistics, such as temperature, heart rate, and blood pressure. They will take a small blood sample (probably from a finger sting) to determine the hemoglobin level.
If you have diabetes, you will need to share your screening status. The screening person can ask you additional questions. You need to make sure that you have information about any medications you can take to treat your diabetes. In some countries, these diabetes medications should not disqualify you from donating blood.
In the US, people who donate blood, regardless of whether they have diabetes, must also meet the following requirements:
- Have a good overall health
- Weight of 110 pounds or more
- Be at least 17 years old (in most states), parental consent is required for 16-year-old donors
There are other conditions and health factors, such as international travel, that may prevent you from donating blood. Check with your blood donation center for other health or other considerations that may prevent you from donating.
Blood donation process
The entire blood donation process takes about an hour. The time actually spent donating blood usually takes about 10 minutes. You will be seated in a comfortable chair while donating blood. The person assisting you with the donation will sanitize your arm and insert a needle. In general, the needle will cause only a slight amount of pain, similar to a spike. Once the needle enters, you should not feel any pain.
How can I prepare for blood donation?
Before you decide to donate blood, there are several ways you can prepare to make sure your donation is successful. You should:
- Drink plenty of water. You should increase your water intake a few days before the scheduled donation.
- Eat iron-rich foods or take an iron supplement one to two weeks before donating.
- Sleep well the night before the donation. Plan to sleep eight or more hours of sleep.
- Eat balanced meals. This is especially important when you have diabetes. Maintaining a healthy diet that keeps your blood sugar low is essential to control your condition.
- Limit caffeine on the day of donation.
- Bring a list of medications you are currently taking.
What to expect after a blood donation?
After donation, you should monitor your blood sugar levels and continue to eat a healthy diet. Consider adding iron-rich foods or a supplement to your diet for 24 weeks after donation.
In general, you should:
- Keep the bandage on for at least four hours to avoid bruising.
- Rest if you feel any headaches
- Avoid intense activity for 24 hours after donation. This includes physical exercises as well as other tasks.
- Increase your fluid intake a few days after donation.
- If you feel unwell or are worried about your health after donating blood, contact your doctor immediately.
Will my blood sugar level be lower or higher after I donate? Why is it and is it “normal”?
After donating blood, your blood sugar level should not be affected and cause high or low readings. However, HbgA1c (glycated hemoglobin, which measures blood sugar for three months) can be falsely lowered. HbgA1c is thought to be low due to blood loss during donation, which can lead to an acceleration in red blood cell turnover. This effect is only temporary.
Can a diabetic donate blood in the USA?
Yes, they can. From April 2020, the FDA updated their guidance and removed this restriction for diabetics.
When you arrive to donate, a professional will take you through a screening process asking you to reveal any health conditions, including type 1 diabetes. You should be ready to provide additional information on your diabetes and the medications you’re taking. Your A1C will not be tested before you give blood, so your honesty regarding your diabetes is essential. As long as your blood sugar levels are within a normal range, your blood is acceptable for donation. Blood with too much sugar in it does not store well.
If you pass the general health test and your blood sugar levels are steady, the only remaining factor is the source of your insulin. In the past, those who had used bovine-derived insulin any time since 1980 were disqualified from donating due to the risk of mad cow disease.
In UK can a diabetic donate blood?
The NHS Blood and Transplant (the governing health organization responsible for blood) refuses blood donations from those who may be put at greater health risk by giving. Unfortunately, they lump most diabetes patients into this category, as they refuse blood from anyone taking any form of insulin, whether via shots or pump therapy. This disqualifies not only type 1 diabetes patients from donating but some patients with type 2 diabetes as well.
Can a diabetic donate blood in Australia?
As per the United States, diabetes patients are eligible to donate as long as they have no complications from their diabetes — such as eye, blood vessel, or kidney problems — and their blood sugar levels are under control. If you’ve used bovine-derived insulin in the past, however, you may not be eligible.
Can a diabetic donate blood in Canada?
Canada does not allow people with type 1 diabetes to donate blood. People with type 2 diabetes who are working to keep blood sugars down are allowed to donate.