Can People with Lupus Donate Blood?
Back in the day, people with lupus, like many chronic illnesses, were turned away at blood donation centers — despite the overwhelming need for donors. But that’s no longer necessarily the case.
Guidelines from the American Red Cross and American Association of Blood Banks note that people with most chronic illnesses are welcome to donate providing they feel well, the condition is under control and they meet all other requirements for eligibility. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration provides the following description of who can and cannot donate blood; having lupus is not a criterion, but it is likely you will be asked if you are feeling up to it before giving blood.
To be eligible to give blood, you must:
- feel well and be able to perform normal activities
- have a blood pressure within normal limits
- have a normal temperature
- be free from acute respiratory diseases
- be at least 16 years old
- have a normal blood hemoglobin level
- not have donated blood in the last 56 days
Reasons you may not be able to give blood include:
- not feeling well
- having anemia (about half of people with SLE are anemic)
- past use of needles to take drugs that were not prescribed by a health care professional
- having a sexually transmitted disease
- being pregnant
- getting tattooed or having body piercings in the last year
- living in, or visiting certain countries during designated periods of time
In most cases, taking medication will not affect your eligibility to donate. However, there are medications, some of which are among those prescribed for lupus, which can disqualify potential donors.
Talk to your physician before deciding to donate blood. If you get the go-ahead, prepare for your visit to the blood bank center by taking along a list of all the medications you are taking or have taken in the past. Some blood banks may welcome your donation while others may not, depending on their specific eligibility criteria.
The key to ensuring that you donate safely for yourself and others is to answer the donor questionnaire completely and honestly. It is important to include all medications you are taking or have taken in the past, as well as any diagnosis you have received. No detail should be left out. As a person with a chronic disease, you know perhaps better than most, how it can feel to receive support from others as well as how good it can feel to be able to help someone else. Giving blood is an amazing way to give of yourself, and you want that gift to be safe for you and for the recipient.