Can diabetics donate blood? The general answer is yes. Simply being diabetic does not automatically rule you out as a potential blood donor.
However, this doesn’t mean you can just show up and donate blood at any place collecting it. You still have to meet the criteria of being a blood donor. Rules sometimes vary state by state, and your doctor might not approve of you donating blood as a diabetic.
What Is a Blood Transfusion?
Mayo Clinic defines a blood transfusion as a routine medical action where donated blood is given to a patient. This happens through a tube that has been inserted into an arm vein. This procedure can save lives as it replaces blood lost because of injury or surgery. Blood transfusions also help people who have an illness preventing their body from making enough blood or the right blood components.
What Are the General Requirements to Donate Blood?
The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute lists the following general requirements:
- Donors must be in generally good health.
- Males must be 17 years of age or older, a minimum of 130 pounds, and 5’1″ or taller.
- Females must be 19 years of age or older, a minimum of 150 pounds, and 5’5″ or taller.
- You must be free of heart disease, lung disease, bleeding tendencies, and organ disease.
- You have to go 56 days between donations.
- You can’t have any symptoms of cold or flu.
- You need a valid form of identification, such as a state ID or driver’s license.
You should note that these are the general guidelines and not the full set of limitations for each blood donation event or center. Consult your local donation clinic for specifics in your area.
Why Do People Need Blood Donations Anyway?
Blood donations are crucial to the health and survival of many individuals. This happens for various reasons, including but not limited to:
- Anemia: Anyone who is anemic doesn’t have sufficient levels of oxygen-rich blood. Weakness and fatigue can result. In the most serious cases, transfusions of red blood cells might be required.
- Burn Victims: Victims of severe burns can lose a lot of blood without having red cell production to replace it. As such, a transfusion can promote their recovery, possibly even saving their life.
- Cancer: Blood transfusions can help with particular kinds of cancer. They can also counteract some negative side effects that happen with common cancer treatments.
- Sickle Cell: This disease is one where individuals have abnormal proteins in their own blood. It’s commonly associated with those of African descent. The only cure for sickle cell is a transplant of bone marrow and new blood.
Are Diabetics Able to Donate Blood?
The primary reason this is usually even in question is because diabetics usually have difficulty managing the blood sugar levels in their bodies.
Diabetics can generally donate blood, but they have to watch out for particular things.
Type 1 and Type 2 diabetics are both allowed to donate blood, provided that:
- Their condition is under control.
- They’re in good health.
Diabetics should arrive with their blood monitoring devices so they can track blood sugar levels while donating.
If you are diagnosed with diabetes, you need to inform the person handling your screening. They might ask you the specific medications you’re taking. According to Healthline, they might also check your:
- Blood sugar levels
- Blood sample
- Blood pressure
Identifying Your Blood Type
Blood typing kits are available that let you determine your blood time. There are eight kinds more common than the rest:
You can also just ask your parents. Blood types are something that people inherit from their biological parents.
O- is known as universal blood because it is useful in any transfusion, no matter what kind the recipient has. As such, O- is in high demand, but only 7 percent of all people have it.
What Is Donating Blood Like?
Blood donations are collected all the time, so the process is very routine. Having said that, you still need to prepare yourself and ascertain your eligibility.
The process might go like this:
- Find a place you can donate blood. Search blood drive locations. You might even fill out your pre-screening form on the internet.
- Get lots of iron in your diet in the weeks before your appointment. Iron-rich foods include dried apricots, fish, chicken, lean red meat, spinach, cashews, and beans, among others.
- Drink plenty of water for hydration on your donation day. Wear comfortable clothes that leave easy access to your arms. Bring your ID and a list of medications.
- Sign in when you show up and go through the pre-screening questions. That will be followed up with vitals.
- They’ll sanitize your arm using an antiseptic before using a sterile needle for the blood extraction.
- You won’t be alone if you’re scared of needles. It happens to a lot of people.
What Happens After I Donate?
Congratulations to you if you donated blood. It’s not always fun, but it does make a positive difference in the world.
Your collected blood will get tested to rule out sexually transmitted diseases. If any are detected, your blood is disposed of.
The needle will leave a puncture mark, and there might be a bruise for several days.
Approximately two months after you donated, you can go back and do it again, diabetic or not.
Check With Your Doctor
Your physician can tell you if you’re a good match or not for donating blood. They’ll be more familiar with local guidelines and criteria, but they’ll also be happy to see you contributing to a badly needed national supply.