Can I donate blood if I'm a diabetic?

Heather Georgoudiou April 30, 2019

Millions of people around the world live with diabetes or know someone living with diabetes. A common misconception is that being a diabetic means you can’t donate blood, but that’s not necessarily true.

Being a diabetic does not mean you can’t donate blood, but there are some factors related to your diabetes that could cause you to be deferred.  

Factors that may prevent a diabetic from donating

Blood sugar levels

If your blood glucose level is within your target range (set by your medical provider) and you are in good health, you should be fine to donate blood.

You should not donate if you are having issues with your sugars and they are not in range, but it’s also a good idea to let your doctor know you wish to donate blood to get his or her recommendation.

Blood with too much sugar in it doesn’t store well.

Source of insulin

Those who have used bovine-derived insulin at any time since 1980 are ineligible to donate. This requirement is related to concerns about variant CJD, or mad cow disease.

Studies have shown that there is a small possibility that mad cow can be passed through blood transfusions.

Other diabetic medications in general won’t prevent you from giving blood, but there are a list of other medications that could cause a deferral. Please review our deferral list for more information.

Does it matter if I have Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes?

Diabetes should not put you at any greater risk of feeling faint or nauseous while donating, regardless of whether you have Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes.

As long as your diabetes is well-managed and under control, you can donate blood.

Monitor your blood glucose levels post donation

Some Type 1 diabetics report slightly elevated blood glucose levels 3-5 days after donating. While your immediate levels won’t spike or bottom out due to donating, it is possible that donating blood may cause your A1C or HbA1c to be falsely lowered. This is thought to be caused by blood loss and accelerated red blood cell turnover.

Monitor your blood sugar levels after donating and make sure to keep your body nourished by increasing your fluid intake and consuming more iron.

Unlike the insulin diabetic’s use, blood cannot be made in the factory and only comes from volunteer donors. If your diabetes is well-controlled you can give whole blood every 56 days or donate platelets every 7 days.

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Heather Georgoudiou

Heather Georgoudiou is OneBlood’s Digital Marketing Analyst. She is a social media strategist and content creator with a passion for saving lives through the power of digital communications. 

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