Blood donation is an essential philanthropic activity, which saves lives on a daily basis. There is no manufactured alternative for blood and this results in huge demand for blood donations. Apart from being a good deed, blood donation is also beneficial to the human body in numerous ways. However, there are various restrictions to donating blood, and this article discusses if diabetics can donate blood.
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), diabetes should not affect one’s ability to donate blood as long as they are feeling well and their diabetes is under control. However, various countries have various policies on allowing diabetics to donate blood. In countries like the United States and Canada, diabetics can donate blood as long as they do not have any outstanding complications, whereas in the United Kingdom, diabetics are not allowed to donate blood.
When can diabetics NOT donate blood?
Diabetics are prevented from donating blood in certain situations to safeguard the recipient and more importantly protect the donor from unwanted complications.
- Type 1 diabetics are not allowed to donate blood because of the extreme blood sugar levels. When people with low sugar levels donate blood, the sugar levels go down even further pushing them into hypoglycemia. Type 1 diabetics also carry a risk of skin infections with prick of needle to draw blood.
- Until the 1980, the type of insulin used was majorly bovine, that is extracted from cattle. Someone who has used bovine insulin is not allowed to donate blood. This restriction can be attributed to the concerns related to mad cow disease or variant CJD.
- Any insulin-dependent diabetic is put through many tests before donating blood because the insulin-dependency means that they are prone to extreme blood sugar levels.
- Normally, people who deal with diabetes through medications can donate blood, but if you have had a medication change in the former 4 weeks, you could be subjected to complications because of donating blood.
- A pancreatic tissue transplant would prevent you from donating blood.
- Ulcers related to diabetic neuropathy, heart diseases and kidney diseases which could all be the effect of diabetes would restrict you from blood donation.
- If you have had complicated dental work as a result of damage caused due to high blood glucose levels, you could be prevented from donating blood.
Blood donation process
1. Before blood donation, it is important to consume large amounts of water, eat a healthy meal rich in iron and sleep well on the night before donation. Monitor your blood glucose levels and confirm that they are within the preferred range on the day of donation.
2. In the donation centre, you would be asked to fill out a form with your details and your medical conditions. It is important to answer these honestly. Produce a list of medications you are consuming. A person identification card, like the driver’s license, must be submitted before you are allowed to donate blood.
3. The blood donation process is simple, where you are made to sit in a reclining chair and the nurse cleans and inserts the needle in the veins to draw out blood. This will last for about 10 minutes. A person can donate upto 1 pint of blood (1 unit).
4. After the blood donation is complete, you are asked to wait for some more time to check if you have any complications. You are provided with simple snacks like biscuits and fruit juice. Diabetics can bring their own snacks to have control over what they eat.
5. If the arm is still sore after the needle is removed, it is advised to take acetaminophen. The dressing over the pricked area should be kept for 4 hours after donation to avoid bruising.
6. Diabetics should monitor their blood glucose level closely in the days following blood donation. Fluid consumption should be increased to stay hydrated and iron and mineral rich foods should be consumed to replenish the blood removed during donation.
Benefits of blood donation
- The primary benefit is that the blood we donate can save three other people’s lives. According to the World Health Organisation, 25 donors per 1000 people are enough to meet the blood demands in the world. Therefore, donating blood can help other people and improve your spiritual health.
- Blood donation also has various health benefits. People who donate blood regularly are at reduced risks of heart attacks and strokes, and Type 2 diabetes. According to a research by King Abdullah International Medical Research Center (KAIMRC), blood donation can temporarily improve insulin production and glucose tolerance due to lower iron stores in blood.
Blood donation is a noble act that can improve another person’s life directly. Moreover, it is also healthy to donate blood. Although blood donations are helpful, it should not be done in the cost of the donor’s health. If you are a diabetic, take necessary precautions before you donate blood and take required care after you donate blood. Donate blood, Save lives!