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Ask the Doc

November 2014 • Published in The Daily Press, Ashland WI

Q: I have diabetes. Can I donate blood?

This is a common question. And most likely the answer will be yes. Most individuals with type 1 and 2 diabetes are eligible to donate blood, although there are some exceptions.

Type 1 diabetes is usually diagnosed during childhood and occurs when the body’s immune system limits or eliminates the production of insulin. Type 2 diabetes, which is usually diagnosed later in life, occurs when the body develops a resistance to the insulin being produced in the body. With diet and exercise changes, as well as medication or insulin injections for some patients, individuals with diabetes can typically lead normal, healthy lives.

If you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes, here are some guidelines to consider before scheduling an appointment to donate blood:

  • Make sure your blood sugar levels are under control. Fluctuations in your blood sugar levels would be an indication that your diabetes is not well controlled, making it unsafe for you to donate blood.
  • If you have recently been diagnosed with diabetes, we encourage you to wait until your blood sugar levels are well controlled.
  • If your insulin or oral medications have recently changed, do not donate until you have been able to stabilize and maintain your blood sugar levels.
  • Use of insulin is permitted as long as it is not derived from cattle from the United Kingdom. Past or present use of bovine- (cow) derived insulin results in an indefinite deferral from donating blood because of the risk of vCJD, a variant of “Mad Cow Disease.”

Thank you for considering becoming a blood donor and helping us save and sustain lives in the community through blood donation. If you are eligible to donate—if your diabetes is well controlled and you meet all other eligibility requirements—we hope you will make a date to donate.

Making an appointment online is easy and convenient. Visit MBC.ORG and click the Donate Blood button to schedule a donation at one of our Northland donor centers. You also can search by zip code for a community blood drive or schedule an appointment to donate in your area.

Jed Gorlin, M.D. is Medical Director and Vice President, Medical and Quality Affairs for Memorial Blood Centers. Elizabeth Perry, M.D. is Associate Medical Director for Memorial Blood Centers.

Send us your questions. Call us today 1-888-GIVE-BLD (888-448-3253) to schedule an appointment, or to find out more about Memorial Blood Centers and how we partner with the Ashland community to save lives. You also can visit us online at MBC.ORG.

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