Although people with diabetes can donate blood, several essential variables must be considered beforehand.


Any individual with ordinary hemoglobin levels can participate in donating blood, according to the F.D.A. This means that donors must be able to manage their diabetes by maintaining healthy blood sugar levels with appropriate treatments, such as insulin or oral medications.

While blood donations are only permitted every 56 days in the U.S., some doctors will advise a longer gap between donations for those with diabetes.

This article examines how diabetes may impact blood donation and provides instructions on how to give blood.

What Is Blood?

Everybody knows what blood is. It's that red fluid running through our veins, and it's what makes us alive.

Blood is a bodily fluid that circulates through the body, transporting oxygen and nutrients to the cells and removing carbon dioxide and other wastes. Blood also helps fight infection and heal wounds. There are several different types of blood, including red blood cells, white blood cells, platelets, and plasma.

Blood is made up of different parts:

  • Plasma: the watery part that contains proteins, blood cells, and other substances
  • Red blood cells: carry oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body
  • White blood cells: fight infection
  • Platelets: help stop bleeding

Why Do People Donate Blood?

Patients need blood to survive operations, cancer treatments, chronic illnesses, and severe traumas. This life-saving treatment is made possible by one person's generous donation. Blood is always necessary.

There are many other reasons why people donate blood.

  • Some people donate because they have been affected by a serious illness or injury and want to help others.
  • Others donate in memory of a loved one who passed away or as a way to give back to their community.
  • And some people donate simply because they can and want to make a difference in someone else's life.

Is Donating Blood Safe for People With Diabetes?

Can someone with diabetes donate blood? Diabetes type 1 and type 2 patients are eligible to donate blood. But before giving blood, you should have your diabetes under control and be in generally good health.

When you manage your diabetes properly, your blood glucose levels stay within healthy ranges. You must constantly monitor your diabetes because of this. You must monitor your blood sugar level throughout the day, consume a portion of nutritious food, and get enough exercise.

Maintaining good blood glucose levels will help you lead a healthy lifestyle. To manage your diabetes, your doctor might also recommend a few drugs. Your ability to donate blood shouldn't be affected by your diabetes medications.

Consult your doctor before your donation if you wish to become a donor but are worried about your diabetes. They can respond to all of your inquiries and assist you in deciding whether this is the best course of action for you.

What Are the Requirements for Donating Blood?

Insulin source

The source of a diabetic's insulin is another issue for blood donors. According to the N.I.H., anyone who has used bovine insulin or beef-derived insulin is ineligible to be a donor.

According to the Food and Drug Administration (F.D.A.), this restriction appears to result from worries about variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob (mad cow disease) disease, as there may be a potential that the disease's markers could be transmitted through blood transfusions.

However, it is no longer available because healthcare practitioners stopped using this form of insulin in 1998.

It's also crucial to remember that these are American regulations. Other nations, like Canada and the United Kingdom, may have different criteria.

Blood sugar level

According to the American Red Cross, people with diabetes are allowed to donate as long as they can manage their disease.

Donations shouldn't be made immediately if a person has trouble managing their blood sugar or maintaining it within a safe range.

Instead, they can discuss their wish to donate with a doctor who will work closely with them to control their blood glucose levels.

Diabetes complications

Additionally, if you are pregnant or have complications from diabetes, you cannot donate blood. This involves issues with the kidneys, nerve harm, or amputation. Additionally, you cannot be a blood donor if you've undergone an organ transplant or heart failure.

What to Expect During the Blood Donation Process

Health screening

To participate in the screening process at blood donation facilities, you must be honest about any existing medical issues.

Additionally, a trained Red Cross employee will assess you and take your vital signs, including:

  • Temperature
  • Pulse
  • Blood pressure
  • Hemoglobin levels

You must disclose your diabetes at the screening if you have it. Your interviewer might ask you further questions.

Blood donation

It takes roughly one hour and fifteen minutes to donate blood entirely. The actual blood donation process typically takes 10 minutes.

You will donate blood while seated on a cozy chair. The individual helping you donate will clean your arm and stick a needle in it. In most cases, the pain from the needle is minimal and feels a bit like a pinch.

There shouldn't be any discomfort after the needle is inserted.

Different Types of Blood Donation

White blood donation

White cell donations occur only when there is a specific patient need, unlike whole blood donation, which can be made whenever a donor has the time to do so. White cells are transfused to the patient the same day as the donor because they have a 24-hour shelf life.

Power red donation

When you participate in the Power Red program, you donate a concentrated amount of red blood cells—the portion of your blood used daily for people who need transfusions as part of their care. This type of donation uses an automated procedure to separate your red blood cells from the other blood components before returning your plasma and platelets to you securely and comfortably.

Platelet donation

Your blood contains platelets, tiny cells that help stop bleeding and form clots. Patients with cancer and other life-threatening conditions and injuries are the ones who require platelets the most frequently.

An apheresis machine takes your platelets and some plasma during a platelet donation, returning the majority of the plasma and most of your red blood cells to you. Several transfusable units can be produced from a single platelet donation. It often takes five whole blood donations to create one transfusable platelet unit.

AB Elite plasma donation

A blood sample is taken from one arm and passed through a sophisticated machine that separates your plasma from your red blood cells and platelets before returning them to you safely and comfortably, along with some saline, during a plasma-only donation.

How Do You Donate Blood?

Donating blood is a simple and easy process that only takes a few minutes. To donate blood, you will first need to complete a health questionnaire and provide your contact information. Then, you will be asked to read and sign a consent form. Next, you will have your height and weight measured, and then you can donate blood. The entire process typically takes about 45 minutes to an hour.

There are several ways to donate blood. You can donate at a local donation center or mobile unit. You can also donate during a blood drive. To find a local donation center or blood drive, visit the American Red Cross website or the United Blood Services website.

If for any reason you are not able to donate blood, there are other ways you can help. You can promote blood donation and raise awareness about the importance of blood donation. You can also encourage your friends and family members to donate blood.

Diabetic Donating Blood

Does the Type of Diabetes Matter?

Because the body is not producing or using insulin as effectively as it should in people with diabetes, their blood sugar levels are altered.

According to the C.D.C., patients with type 1 diabetes have little or no production of the hormone insulin, which helps regulate blood sugar levels. They are therefore forced to use insulin injections.

People with type 2 diabetes can no longer use this insulin to control their blood sugar levels; instead, they must turn to external sources or other drugs.

In both situations, a person's ability to donate blood will only be impacted by how well they manage their disease. People with diabetes of any type who control their blood sugar levels well ought to have no trouble donating.

When Can't You Donate Blood?

It's important to know, diabetic or non-diabetic, that there you can't donate blood if you recently did any of the below items:

  • Got a tattoo or piercing in the past 12 months
  • Had surgery in the past 12 months
  • Received a blood transfusion in the past 12 months
  • Are pregnant or have recently given birth
  • You have iron levels that are on the low side
  • You are sick (the flu, a cold, corona, an infection, ...)
  • You are a minor (under 16 years old)
  • You have cancer
  • You have HIV
  • You have hepatitis
  • You have a lung disease
  • Using bovine insuline

What are the Risks and Benefits of Donating Blood for Diabetics?

There are some risks and benefits associated with donating blood for diabetics. Generally speaking, donating blood is safe for most people with diabetes. However, there are a few things to keep in mind:

  • If you are taking insulin or oral medication for diabetes, make sure to eat before giving blood. You should also bring a snack and drink with you to donate.
  • Make sure you have your diabetes under control and that you maintain healthy blood sugar levels before donating blood.
  • If you are pregnant or have recently given birth, you should not donate blood.
  • Some people with diabetes may experience nausea or lightheadedness after donating blood. If this happens, drink fluids and measure your blood glucose levels often after donating.

There are also several benefits to donating blood for diabetics:

  • Donating can help raise your overall awareness of your diabetes and how to manage it.
  • Donating can help you stay on track with your treatment plan by providing regular check-ups from medical professionals.
  • Donating can help reduce your risk of heart disease and other chronic health conditions.

Blood donation is a simple way to make a difference in someone else's life.

If you are unsure that you can donate blood talk to your doctor. He or she can help you determine if blood donation is right for you.

What to Do After Donating Blood?

After your blood donation, it's important you check your blood sugar levels and drink plenty of fluids. It's also a good idea to rest for a while after the blood donation. You may feel lightheaded or dizzy after donating, but this should go away within a few minutes. If you experience these symptoms for an extended period of time, or if they worsen, contact your doctor.

Some extra tips after donating blood are;

  • boost iron and mineral consumption
  • avoid vigorous exercise for the rest of the day
  • drink plenty of fluids, especially water
  • eat a light snack
  • take it easy for the rest of the day - relax and get some rest

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you donate blood when pregnant?

Donating blood is impossible if you are pregnant. You cannot donate if you received a blood transfusion during pregnancy or birth.

Can you donate plasma if you have diabetes?

Yes, provided your diabetes is well-controlled with diet and oral medication, and there are no complications, such as eye, heart, blood vessel, or kidney issues.

Conclusion

It can be a challenge to donate blood if you are diabetic. To ensure your safety, it is important that you have eaten recently and that your diabetes is under control. You may experience nausea or lightheadedness after donating, but this should go away within a few minutes. If these symptoms do not subside, contact your doctor right away.

Blood donation can be an easy way to make a difference in someone else's life without any risks involved!

About the Author

Ely Fornoville

Hi, I'm Ely Fornoville and I am the founder of Diabetic & Me. Being a type 1 diabetic since 1996 I developed a passion to help people learn more about diabetes. I write about diabetes and share stories from other diabetics around the world. I am currently using a Medtronic Guardian 4 and a Minimed 780G insulin pump with Humalog.

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