Can You Give Blood or Plasma If You Have Diabetes?
If your diabetes is well managed, you may be able to donate blood safely.
Reviewed by Virta Medical Affairs
Donating blood can be a wonderful way to give back and support others in your community — you can even save up to three lives per donation! But if you have diabetes, you may wonder, can people with diabetes donate blood or plasma?
First, let’s talk about the difference between donating blood and plasma. When you donate blood, your blood goes directly into a collection bag. Whole blood is most often used during surgeries and to treat trauma patients.
When you donate plasma, blood is drawn through a machine that separates the liquid part of your blood from the cells. Then, the red blood cells, platelets and a saline solution are returned to you through your arm. Donated plasma is used to stop or to prevent bleeding in high-risk people, and increase blood volume in trauma and emergency situations.
Why can’t people with diabetes donate blood? (They Can!)
Many people with diabetes are unsure if they’re eligible to donate blood, which makes sense because diabetes is a condition that affects your blood. The good news is you can give blood and plasma if you have diabetes as long as you’re in good health and your diabetes is under control. If you’re unsure, ask your primary care provider or endocrinologist if it’s OK for you to donate.
Donation is generally safe for people with type 1 or type 2 diabetes, as long as your diabetes is well-managed and you’re healthy overall. It’s also safe to donate blood if you take insulin or oral medications to manage your diabetes as long as these drugs were prescribed to you by a medical professional. Just be sure to mention that you have diabetes when you arrive for your blood donation appointment.
You must also meet the following eligibility requirements to give blood and plasma:
- Feel well and be in good health.
- Weigh at least 110 pounds.
- Be at least 17 years old (in most states).
- Haven’t donated blood in the last 56 days.
How does donating blood affect your diabetes?
If you’ve recently given blood and have a medical appointment, it’s a good idea to let your provider know you’ve recently donated blood. It’s possible for blood donation to (temporarily) lead to falsely lowered HbA1c levels, likely because of a change in your blood volume and faster red blood cell turnover.
In people with type 1 diabetes, donating blood may temporarily raise blood glucose levels for three to five days afterward. While this isn’t the case for every person with diabetes, it’s something to be aware of and mention to your provider if you have an appointment.
To ensure your blood donation process goes smoothly, remember these tips:
- Consistently monitor your blood glucose levels in the days leading up to your donation appointment. You’ll want your blood sugar to be within the range recommended by your health care provider because blood with very high glucose levels doesn’t store well.
- Eat a healthy diet that helps stabilize your blood sugar.
- Drink plenty of fluids.
It's generally safe for people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes to donate blood and plasma. Donating blood is an easy way to potentially save lives and make a positive difference in the world. If you have questions or concerns about donating plasma or blood, talk with your health care provider first.
If you are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and want to live a healthier lifestyle, Virta Health may be able to help. By making healthy lifestyle changes in a medical setting with supportive resources like 1:1 virtual coaching, you can regain control of your health and feel like yourself again. See if you’re eligible for Virta Health here.