November is American Diabetes Month. 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.
If you are healthy and your diabetes is under control you may be able to become a blood donor. You should check with your doctor before you make an appointment to donate blood.
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 give 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 is 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?
As long as your diabetes is well-managed and under control, you can donate blood. Having Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes does not make a difference.
Tips for diabetics on how to prepare to give blood
In the days before your donation, strive to keep your sugar level within the normal range as determined by your medical care team. As with all blood donors, we recommend that you hydrate well the days before and after your donation and get plenty of sleep the night before. Find more pre-donation tips here.
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 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.
If you are ready to celebrate taking control of your diabetes and save lives. Make an appointment to give blood today.