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 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? 


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. 

6 thoughts on “Blood Donation

  1. I would be afraid to donate because of medications, especially those that can cause birth defects, etc. I looked it up on at
    if an RA patient is only on NSAIDs it may be okay, but not if on mtx, Plaquenil, Imuran. It also mentions that RA patients may have other infections that don’t show in the screenings. I have never donated because I don’t meet the weight requirements, but both of my parents were regular doners. I’m registered as an organ donor, but I don’t know if RA & meds affect that also or not. – Teri

  2. I used to donate blood regularly. But due to a variety of problems I haven’t donated for the last few years. And unfortunatly I am reluctant to start again. My system seems “sensitive”, and I’m afraid if I put a stress on it by giving blood, it will cause something else to go wacky.

  3. Have always wanted to donate blood. I finally turned 16(at where i’m, only above 16, and below 18s have to have parents consent), and when the Red Cross came to my school, i was already on MTX and pred.

    I actually didn’t know that we could domate blood! But i’ll have to check with the relevant authorities about it at where i’m at.

    I’d gladly be a regular donor if i could! Something that i wanted to do in the past! 🙂


  4. @Teri – that weight requirement used to throw me, too. When my husband and I were dating, I weighed 107#; I would wear heavy clothes and stuff my pockets full of rocks and beg the person doing the screening that 109 was close enough to 110 that they should let me donate. It usually worked, and they’d be extra careful to watch me when I was done. 🙂

    The about link was interesting in the specific reasons given that one particular donation center says “no.” Also, the author did say that other places could be different, so should be contacted about your specific meds list.

    @srra – the place I contacted that will accept donors with RA was emphatic that people need to feel healthy when they donate blood. If you’re not feeling up to par, then it probably wouldn’t be a good idea.

    @Steph – Let me know what you find out.

  5. Hi Warm Socks

    I checked with the regulating authorities(not the Red Cross because i think even the RC is being regulated by the authorities. It says on the website:

    You should not give blood if you have:

    -Autoimmune diseases such as SLE, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Thyrotoxicosis.

    On why people with autoimmune diseases cannot donate:

    People who have autoimmune diseases (such as autoimmune thyroid disease, ankylosing spondylitis) are advised not to donate blood. This is because there is a small risk of causing immune system disturbance and symptomatic disease in patients who receive blood from donors with autoimmune diseases.



  6. I was just reviewing the paperwork my rheumy gave me with my mtx rx. The info from Up-to-Date says not to donate blood if you’re taking methotrexate. Sorry I can’t provide a link; my rheumy printed the pages for me but when I tried to go online to pull up the info, found that that particular article requires a subscription.

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