Blood is a priceless commodity that cannot be manufactured or reproduced. It can only be given by charitable persons. It is easy to give blood and this blog strongly encourages those who can to consider making a donation.
Blood donations are critical in the care of cancer patients like my friend Rupert Ellis who inspired me to create the Facebook group, O Negative Blood Donations Network, an appeal and awareness campaign aimed at encouraging blood donations of this blood type for him and countless other Jamaicans who are facing a health crisis because of the shortage of O negative blood group in the national blood bank reserves.
A blood gift can save the life of your own child, sibling, spouse, parent or friend.
However, according to the Blood Bank, because of common misperceptions and lack of understanding about pre- donor requirements, many potential donors who register either do not show up because of miseducation about the eligibility criteria and many who show are turned away from making a donation because they are ineligible.
Every time a potential donor is turned away or deferred, it reduces the survival rate for a critical care patient waiting to receive that blood. For rare blood type patients like those with O-negative blood, it can be a matter of life and death.
I’ve compiled a checklist of 20 of the most common reasons your blood donation could be disqualified or deferred at a blood collection centre. Use it to check your status.
But let’s start with the basic criteria that determine anyone’s eligibility to participate in the blood donation process.
To give blood in Jamaica, you MUST
- be in good general health and feel well
- be between 17 and 60 years old
- weigh at least 110 lbs.
- present a National Identification
Most donations will be deferred if you have a health condition that could put you or the receiver at risk. Below, you’ll find 15 health related issues which the American Red Cross Association says may cause your blood donation to be disqualified.
In most cases, you can usually make a second attempt to donate after a specific period has passed, usually a 12- month deferral. To read the full list of eligibility criteria and deferral timelines for blood donations, visit the American Red Cross. Find local information at the National Blood Transfusion Service (Jamaica).
Conditions That Will Disqualify or Defer Your Donation
Here is a summary checklist:
You may NOT be eligible to give blood if you have any of these health conditions:
#1. You are anaemic
Make sure you pay attention to eating well, especially foods rich in iron, before you attempt to donate blood.
#2. You are on Antibiotics
You are taking antibiotics for an acute infection.
According to the American Red Cross, “The reason for antibiotic use must be evaluated to determine if the donor has a bacterial infection that could be transmissible by blood. Donations can be accepted if you have finished oral antibiotics for an infection (bacterial or viral) even if you may have taken the last pill on the date of donation. Antibiotic by injection for an infection is acceptable 10 days after the last injection.”
“Blood donation may be acceptable if you are taking antibiotics to prevent an infection for the following reasons: acne, chronic prostatitis, peptic ulcer disease, periodontal disease, pre-dental work, rosacea, ulcerative colitis, after a splenectomy or valvular heart disease.
#3. You Have a High Fever
If you have a temperature above 99.5 F, you may not donate.
#4. You are Pregnant
If you are pregnant, wait six weeks after giving birth.
#5. You Have AIDS/HIV
Don’t attempt to donate blood if you have AIDS or have ever tested HIV Positive.
#6. You Bleed
Do you have a bleeding condition where your blood does not clot normally? You may have excessive bleeding where the needle is placed.You cannot donate blood if you have this condition.
For the same reason, you should not donate if you are taking any of the “blood thinners” named or not named on this list:
- Atrixa (fondaparinux)
- Coumadin (warfarin)
- Eliquis (apixaban)
- Fragmin (dalteparin)
- Jantoven (warfarin)
- Lovenox (enoxaparin)
- Pradaxa (dabigatran)
- Savaysa (edoxaban)
- Warfilone (warfarin)
- Xarelto (rivaroxaban)
#7. You Have High Blood Pressure
If your blood pressure is at or above 180 systolic (first number) and at or above 100 diastolic (second number) at the time of donation, defer blood donation to another time when you have your blood pressure under control.
#8. You Have Received Blood Recently
If you’ve received a blood transfusion in ….less than 12 months.
#9. You Have Certain Cancers
Eligibility depends on the type of cancer and treatment history. If you had leukaemia or lymphoma, including Hodgkin’s Disease and other cancers of the blood, you are not eligible to donate. Other types of cancer are acceptable if the cancer has been treated successfully if it has been more than 12 months since treatment was completed and there has been no cancer recurrence in this time.
Lower risk in-situ cancers including squamous or basal cell cancers of the skin that have been completely removed do not require a 12 month waiting period.
#10. You Have A Cold/Flu
Postpone donation of blood if you have a cold or flu symptoms.
#11. You Have Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease
If you ever received a dura mater (brain covering) transplant or human pituitary growth hormone, you are not eligible to donate. Those who have a blood relative who had Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease are also not eligible to donate. Learn more about Creutzfeldt Jakob-Disease.
#12. You’ve had an Organ Transplant
Have you had an organ or tissue transplant with the last year? Sorry, you’ll have to try again later.
#13. You Have Body Piercings
If you have body piercings (ears, body) which were performed using a reusable gun or any reusable instrument, you may not be eligible for blood donations.
#14. You Have Certain Untreated STDs
If you have syphilis or gonorrhoea which you have not been treated or have not completed all treatment, you may have to wait until you have confirmed you are free of these ailments.
#15. You are Tattooed
Blood Collection Centres will not be able to accept blood from you if you have a tattoo.
#16.You were exposed to Zika Virus
If you have been exposed to the Zika Virus, your donation will not be accepted.
#17. You are a Smoker.
Smoking eliminates you to participate in any blood donation drives.
# 18 -20. You Don’t Meet the Four Basic Criteria
I started the post mentioning the four criteria to give blood in Jamaica. From the 17 health reasons outlined above, you should have already concluded that your state of health and wellbeing will be scrutinised. Additionally, if you do not meet the expected age, weight and ID requirements, you will be unable to proceed with your donation. Here they are again:
- Can’t provide a National Identification Card
- Under 17 years old
- Weigh Less than 110 pounds
Misconception about Diabetics
Existing misconceptions by themselves are a common reason for blood donors to eliminate themselves from the blood donation exercises. According to the Blood Bank, you should be mindful of a common misperception that persons who are either hypertensive or diabetic (non-dependent on insulin) are not allowed to donate blood. This is not the case and, even if you take oral medication, in many cases you are still eligible for blood donation.
Which of the 17 conditions surprised you the most or cleared up a long-held misconception that prevented you or someone you know from donating blood in the past? Share it in the Comments below.