Can Type 1 Diabetics Donate Blood

Donating blood is a great sign of humanity and generosity. Indeed an altruistic way of helping people. One bag of your blood can have a huge impact on a patient’s life. Have you ever seen anyone throwing a smile of gratitude towards you? It’s heavenly!

A normally healthy person is allowed to donate blood every 4 months. Now, the question is, if you are a diabetic patient, can you donate blood? Is it safe enough? Yes, fortunately, you can. But definitely they will have to keep a few things into consideration.

Today in this article I will give a brief but complete idea regarding the donation of blood in case of diabetics. Here we go!

Can type 1 diabetics donate blood?

Are you a diabetic with a controlled blood sugar level? If yes, then you are most welcome to donate blood. But if you are facing any unlikely condition like nauseous feeling, then get concerned. This condition calls for a session with your doctor.

Sometimes, as a result of blood loss and increased red blood cell turnover, your A1C may seem to lower falsely. But your BGL (blood sugar level) won’t bottom out or spike immediately.

Now, there is another important thing which I think is a must for everybody to know – Co-relation between

  1. Insulin and blood donation

Though I said diabetic patients can donate blood, you see there is a huge but!

Sometimes, Insulin resists you from donating blood. This is applicable to both type-1 and type-2 diabetic patients. But why? This is completely for the donor’s safety. Blood donation seems to be a risk for the donor’s health. So, those taking insulin pump therapy and regular insulin injections are restrained from giving blood.

Again, if we consider the recipient’s safety issue, not all insulins are contradictory to blood donation. It is seen that modern insulins are acceptable but “bovine” insulins made from cattle are considered to be risky. “CJD variant” and “mad cow” disease are the concerns with bovine insulin as it can get transferred to the recipient.

So, it’s not true that insulin automatically removes you from the donor’s list. It just depends on the above factors.

  1. Diabetes medication and donating blood

In this case, if you are under same medication for the last four weeks, you are eligible for blood donation. But if your type of medication or dosage has changed recently, it means that your BGL is not stable. So, here refraining yourself from donating blood will be the best decision for the sake of your own health.

But, one medicine that can prevent you from donating blood is ‘warfarin’. This generally works for maintaining the cholesterol level but in some patients it improves the BGL too. So, you must notify all your medicines, during the screening process.

You see maintaining a healthy life is the most important factor for donating blood. So, if you consider diabetes as a problem, then preserving a good health is the solution.

Let’s look into the checklist now:

  • Sugar level should be in control (<200mg/dl)
  • HbA1c levels must remain between 42-47 mmol/mol
  • Blood pressure below 180/100.

Some factors other than the above ones are

  • Having a healthy heart.
  • Donation should be done once a year.

Problems that interdict blood donation

Having diabetic complications increases the risk of being removed from the eligibility risk. Because this may contribute to making your health worse than before.

For example: Donating blood with retinopathy may affect the health and safety of your eyes due to stress in blood pressure during the donation process.

Other problems may include:

  • Hypoglycaemia
  • Diabetic ulcer
  • Pancreatic tissue transplant
  • Kidney problems

 

Now, if you have diabetes and still want to donate blood you should maintain certain things. Here’s a to-do list:

Before

  1. Try to keep your blood glucose level within a normal range.
  2. Drink plenty of water to keep yourself hydrated.
  3. Avoid doing intense exercise.
  4. Avoid drinking alcohol day before donation.
  5. Make sure to eat a normal meal on that day.
  6. Take mental preparation to disclose your current medications.

After

  1. Keep your blood sugar under surveillance.
  2. Drink plenty of water.
  3. Restrain from exercise for the next 24 hours.
  4. Maintain normal meals.
  5. Rest immediately if feeling lightheaded or dizzy.

Can diabetics donate organs?

Donating organs is lifesaving. The recipient gets a chance to start their life afresh. But unfortunately, diabetics are excluded from the opportunity of being a live donor. A living person can donate a part of their liver or one kidney. But diabetes affects our pancreas, kidney, and other organs. So, the recipient may not get provided with the pure desired organ. Again, the donor will have exposure to surgical risk which should be avoided in the case of diabetic patients as much as possible.

However, after death, your organs can be donated because diabetes may not affect many parts of the body. But, obviously, every organ should be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

Can diabetics donate blood in Canada?

Diabetic patients with perfect blood glucose levels and without any complications (eye, blood vessel, or kidney problems) are eligible to donate blood in America according to American Red Cross. But unlike America, patients with type 1 diabetes are not allowed to donate blood in Canada. This applies to the United Kingdom too. However, type 2 diabetic patients can donate blood as they work to keep their blood sugar level under control.

How much does donating blood lower a1c?

There is no specific A1c eligibility level according to the American Red Cross. But of course, it should not be as high as 9 percent or more. If you are having this much high level of A1c, you might need to wait until you bring them to a much healthier range.

FAQ

  1. Can diabetics donate plasma?

Just like blood, diabetics can also donate plasma. But this depends on the condition and severity of your diabetes. Whole blood donation is also allowed in the case of diabetic patients.

  1. Can diabetics donate platelets?

Yes! Diabetes does not remove you from the platelet donation list. Be glad!

  1. Can you donate blood if you take metformin?

Metformin is the medicine that your doctor may prescribe you for controlling diabetes. But, even if you are under medication, you can donate blood without any restriction.

 

  1. Can you join the military with type 1 diabetes?

Diabetes is a reason for not qualifying in the military. In general, any type of diabetes will disqualify you from the enrolment list. So, if you are already a diabetic patient and still thinking of joining army, I think you should give it a second thought. Your dreams are most likely to shatter!

Now, if you are already serving in the military and then diagnosed with diabetes, it may not affect your job life much. But you need to keep your diabetes under control and have an A1c below 7.

Conclusion

Diabetes is a health condition that requires regular care and surveillance. If not cared properly, it might to lead complications that are unrecoverable.

You can help other people through donations, only if you are healthy yourself. Many diabetics face confusion if they can actually donate blood or not. So, here I tried to give you clear information regarding blood donation of diabetics and also how to consider your own safety. Remember health is your greatest asset. It’s your first priority!

Dr. SM Kamal Hasan, MBBS(Medicine), Rangpur Medical College and Hospital Rangpur- Dinajpur Highway, Cantt, Near Central Jail, Rangpur 5400, Bangladesh