Blood Donation

The Doctors’ Rheum recently had an article suggesting that RA & SLE patients can donate blood.  That was news to me, as I’ve always heard the opposite.  For instance, the donor requirements at Bloodbook.com say:

Arthritis: can donate if mild and not on medication

I followed the link provided on The Doctor’s Rheum site, which led to a Red Cross blood donation eligibility page.  There are no RA meds on the Red Cross list of medications that disqualify people from being a donor.  Very cool!

In the past, my husband and I donated blood regularly.  I had to stop when we started our family, but had looked forward to resuming the practice at some point.  Obviously I don’t want to donate blood if doing so will injure the recipient, so I haven’t pursued it.  Now, however, I was curious.  Maybe I can donate.

I googled “blood donor requirements.”  All the sites I checked have a variation of the “most chronic illnesses are acceptable as donors” and “most medications will not disqualify you” statements, followed by a telephone number to call with specific questions.  In my area, there are two blood banks.  They’re completely different systems, depending on which county I go to.  I called both.

When I phoned the first blood center, I figured I’d read my meds list to see if it was really okay for me to donate blood in spite of all these chemicals I use.  I never got a chance because first they wanted my diagnosis.  A diagnosis of RA puts a person on their permanent deferral list, never eligible to donate blood.  The hospitals that are serviced by this blood bank don’t want blood from RA patients, so the blood bank must enforce that criteria.

Bummed, I phoned the second donor center.  There I started with my diagnosis, and was told, “Sure, that’s no problem.”  180 degrees different from the other place.  Really?  Cool!  Some medications might disqualify people, but it’s the meds, not the RA diagnosis, that’s the criteria.  I read the very nice nurse my entire meds list; about some she said, “not a problem” and a couple she said, “that’s not on the list, so it looks like it’s okay.”

The answer to the question, “Can someone with RA be a blood donor?” is that depends on the donation center.  If I go to Seattle, my blood will be welcome.  If I go to Tacoma, donating blood isn’t an option but I can donate my time and help out with the cause by taking registration information from potential donors and distributing snacks when people are resting after their donation.

Have you ever been a blood donor?
Did that change due to your RA diagnosis?
Have you ever checked the eligibility requirements where you live? 

 

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According to the Red Cross’ site, people on these drugs have waiting periods following their last dose before they can donate blood:

  • Accutane, Amnesteem, Claravis or Sotret (isoretinoin), Proscar (finasteride), and Propecia (finasteride) – wait 1 month from the last dose.
  • Avodart (dutasteride) – wait 6 months from the last dose. 
  • Aspirin, no waiting period for donating whole blood. However you must wait 48 hours after taking aspirin or any medication containing aspirin before donating platelets by apheresis. 
  • Feldene (piroxicam), no waiting period for donating whole blood. However you must wait 48 hours after taking Feldene (piroxicam) before donating platelets by apheresis. 
  • Clopidogrel – wait 14 days after taking this medication before donating platelets by apheresis. 
  • Coumadin (warfarin) , heparin or other prescription blood thinners- you should not donate since your blood will not clot normally. If your doctor discontinues your treatment with blood thinners, wait 7 days before returning to donate. 
  • Hepatitis B Immune Globulin – given for exposure to hepatitis, wait 12 months after exposure to hepatitis. 
  • Human pituitary-derived growth hormone at any time – you are not eligible to donate blood.
  • Plavix – wait 14 days after taking this medication before donating platelets by apheresis. 
  • Soriatane (acitretin) – wait 3 years. 
  • Tegison (etretinate) at any time – you are not eligible to donate blood. 
  • Ticlid – wait 14 days after taking this medication before donating platelets by apheresis. 
  • Ticlopidine – wait 14 days after taking this medication before donating platelets by apheresis.