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Countless lives have been saved because of blood donation. But while donating blood is relatively uncomplicated, not every one can give blood. The following guidelines from the American Red Cross are not all inclusive, but will give you a general idea. If you suspect that you may be excluded from donating, it is important to share the information with the blood center where you go to donate. Even if you are excluded, there are things you can do to help, such as volunteering your time.
Most people in good health are eligible to give blood. There are just a few general guidelines:
Having HIV, the virus responsible for AIDS (Read about "HIV / AIDS"), is an absolute exclusion for donating blood. It is important that people, who do not know they have the virus, but are at risk of getting it or spreading it, also refrain from donating blood. You will be asked a series of questions about your risk factors during the donation process. It is imperative that you answer them honestly.
The latest restriction is having lived overseas or traveled there since 1980. These restrictions recently went into force to protect the blood supply from the human version of Mad Cow Disease, the vCreutzfeldt-Jakob Disease. (Read about "Mad Cow Disease" "Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease") Persons who have spent long periods of time in countries where Mad Cow Disease is found are not eligible to donate. You may not donate if you have stayed more than 3 months total in countries on list 1 (see below) between 1980 and 1996 or if you had a blood transfusion in any from January 1, 1980, to present. Also excluded for the same reason are members of the of the U.S. military, civilian military employees or a dependents of a member of the U.S. military who spent a total time of 6 months on or associated with a military base in any of the following areas during the specified time frames:
Lastly, if since 1980 you spent (visited or lived) a cumulative time of 5 years or more in any combination of countries on list 2, you cannot donate.
You should not donate blood if you are pregnant or have certain serious illnesses such as multiple sclerosis and lupus. (Read about "Multiple Sclerosis" "Lupus") In some cases, it is to protect you from complications.
There are a number of other health factors that may exclude you for a certain time period from donating blood. Many of them are not permanent exclusions. Once again, during the donation process you should be honest and open with the people there. And if you are excluded, find out when you are eligible to return and give blood, so you can do so.
Many of the temporary exclusions involve current health issues such as allergies, colds, flu or sore throats, other infectious diseases and recent vaccinations. (Read about "Allergies" "Common Cold" "Influenza" "Immunizations") There are also now concerns about West Nile virus. (Read about "West Nile Virus")
If you take certain medications, you may be excluded from donating. These can include:
In addition, certain medications will make you ineligible to donate. Once again, discuss all medications you have ever taken. Blood pressure medication does not automatically exclude you from donating blood. It will depend on your blood pressure that day. (Read about "Hypertension: High Blood Pressure")
A parasitic disease being spread by sand flies in Iraq has prompted officials who oversee the military's and the nation's blood supply to implement a one-year donor deferral for military personnel serving in that country. The reason for the deferral is a form of the disease Leishmaniasis, which causes sores or lesions on the skin, and which in its most serious form can cause death. The deferral applies to the whole country of Iraq and includes any civilians, contractors or other individuals who have visited the country, in addition to service personnel stationed there.
It may seem like there are a lot of exclusions to donating blood, but all of them are to safeguard the people that will eventually need the blood. The American Red Cross reports that only about 5 percent of the people who could donate blood actually do it. So as you can understand, your involvement is important.
All Concept Communications material is provided for information only and is neither advice nor a substitute for proper medical care. Consult a qualified healthcare professional who understands your particular history for individual concerns.
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