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Can diabetics donate blood?

Dr. Rashmi ByakodiNov 28, 2022

It's a wonderful feeling to donate blood to someone in need. It is certainly a noble way to help others. While blood donation benefits both recipients and donors, there are a number of medical conditions that preclude you from donating blood. In this scenario, one obvious query might be: can diabetics donate blood? Well, the answer is yes. However, you need to fulfil certain criteria before you can donate blood.

Can Diabetics Donate Blood?

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Can a diabetic person donate blood?

Yes, people with diabetes can donate blood. Specifically, if you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes, you are eligible to donate blood. But you need to keep your diabetes under control and remain in good health before donating blood.

Keeping your diabetes under control means your blood sugar levels must remain within the normal range. By maintaining a healthy lifestyle, having a nutritious and balanced diet, exercising regularly, and taking proper medications, you can help maintain your blood sugar level within a healthy range. However, you should always discuss this with your doctor before donating blood.

Conditions for diabetics to donate blood

Diabetics are eligible to donate blood as long as:

  • you have been diagnosed with gestational diabetes or pre-diabetes and are not undergoing any diabetic treatment at the moment.

  • your diabetes is under control just by your diet alone.

  • you are continuing with the same dose of medication for more than 4 weeks and still you feel healthy and fit.

Diabetics are not eligible to donate blood if you:

  • are on insulin treatment

  • have taken bovine insulin (cattle derived) in past

  • have had heart failure

  • had a pancreatic tissue transplant

  • are under treatment for renal disease

  • are HIV positive

  • have neuropathic ulcer

  • have diabetic retinopathy (a condition in which the blood vessels in the tissues of the eyes get damaged)

  • have frequent dizziness

How can diabetics prepare for blood donation?

Before donating blood, you need to prepare yourself to make the entire process smooth. Here’s how you can go about it.

  • Aim for a minimum of eight hours of sleep

  • Have a proper meal before donating blood to avoid feeling dizzy or off-balance

  • Limit your caffeine intake one day before and on the day of blood donation

  • Carry all medications that you are currently taking

  • Increase your water consumption a few days before the donation

  • Eat plenty of iron-rich foods a minimum 2 weeks before the scheduled donation

Consuming a balanced meal before and after the donation is very important for diabetic people. This can help you manage your blood glucose level properly.

How does the blood donation process occur?

Before the blood donation process starts, a certified health professional will ask you to disclose any pre-existing health conditions you have. The person will also evaluate your basic vital statistics, like temperature, pulse, blood pressure, and haemoglobin levels. You may be asked some additional questions as well.

You must share the medication details that you are taking to treat your diabetes. This will determine whether you are eligible to donate blood. Moreover, you must meet the following requirements before donating blood.

  • You should remain in good health on the day of the donation

  • You should weigh at least 50 kg

  • You should be a minimum of 18 years or older

  • Your fasting blood sugar level is under 140 mg/dL

  • Your HbA1c levels are within 6.0% to 6.4%

  • You are not on insulin

  • You are not anaemic

  • Your blood pressure should not be more than 120/80 mmHg

The entire blood donation process may take you about an hour and fifteen minutes. The actual blood donation part takes about 10 minutes. 

What should you do after the procedure?

After blood donation, you will be asked to rest for at least 15 minutes to observe whether you encounter any side effects. If your arm feels sore, you will be advised to take acetaminophen. If you feel lightheaded, you must continue to rest and avoid strenuous activities for at least 24 hours after blood donation.

Individuals with type 1 diabetes may sometimes report mildly high levels of blood sugar after 3 to 5 days of blood donation. Donating blood may falsely lower HbA1c. This may occur due to faster RBC turnover and blood loss. Hence, it is important for you to monitor your blood sugar levels regularly after a blood donation.

Consuming iron and mineral-rich foods will help replace the compounds lost from the body during blood donation, and drinking ample fluids will keep your body hydrated. If you still feel sick or encounter any other serious issues, contact your healthcare provider immediately.

Factors that may prevent a diabetic from donating blood

Although you can donate blood as a diabetic, certain factors can prevent you from doing so. Hence, it is very important to consider these factors before you plan to donate blood.

1. Blood glucose levels

You can donate blood only if your blood sugar levels are in the normal range and you are in good health. You must get a recommendation from your doctor before opting for blood donation.

2. Insulin

Type 1 and type 2 diabetics who are insulin-dependent are not eligible to donate blood as they may face health risks. Further, if they use bovine insulin, there may be a high chance of the recipient getting mad cow disease. And this disease has a small chance of spreading via blood transfusion.

3. Diabetes medication

You can donate blood if your blood sugar medications and doses have remained unchanged in the past 4 weeks. Recent changes in medication can affect your blood sugar levels and put you at health risk.

4. Cardiac issues

If you have encountered any cardiac issues before or are currently having one, you are ineligible for the donation. Donating blood with heart problems may make you feel faint, dizzy, or have difficulty breathing.

People with cardiac issues face difficulty getting enough oxygen into their bodies. Donating blood may result in a reduced number of oxygen-carrying red blood cells, and that would make the problem even worse.

5. Pre-diabetes

If you are diagnosed with pre-diabetes, you can only be eligible to donate blood if you are not undergoing any diabetic treatment and your blood sugar is within the normal range

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Here’s a list of common questions and their answers related to blood donation by a diabetic person.

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Can type 1 and type 2 diabetics donate blood?

It does not make a difference if you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes; as long as your diabetes is within the normal range, you are eligible to donate blood.

What is the frequency with which a diabetic person can donate blood?

If you remain physically fit and your diabetes is within the normal range, you can donate blood every 28 weeks.

Can a diabetic person donate blood plasma?

Yes, as long as your blood sugar is under control and your vital statistics like temperature, pulse, blood pressure, and haemoglobin levels are good, you can donate blood plasma.

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Disclaimer: The content on this page is generic and shared only for informational and explanatory purposes. Please consult a doctor before making any health-related decisions. 

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