Diabetics: What You Need to Know About Giving Blood and Organ Donation
The medical community relies heavily on the goodwill of its citizens, as giving blood and organ donations help save thousands of lives every year.
But are you prohibited from either of these voluntary activities if you have diabetes?
Don't assume you can't give back and make a difference, even if you have a serious health condition - just make sure you know the general guidelines and ask your doctor before making any serious decisions that could affect your health.
Many times, people with a blood sugar condition automatically assume they can't give blood, but this isn't the case.
According to the American Red Cross, diabetics are entirely eligible to give blood, so long as they have well-controlled glucose levels through insulin or oral medications.
If you have other conditions in addition to diabetes, like heart disease, you will need to be medically evaluated before you are cleared to give blood.
One caveat about giving blood as a diabetic is that people who have ever used bovine insulin made from cattle in the United Kingdom since 1980 are not eligible to give blood. This has to do with concerns about "mad cow" disease.
Living Organ Donation
Many diabetics assume they are not eligible to donate non-essential organs while alive, but this is also a myth.
While it is true that you must have a thorough medical exam and have clearance from your doctor, the determination of whether or not you are eligible to donate organs is done on a case-by-case basis.
The Donate Life organization recommends that everyone should consider the possibility of becoming a potential donor. Even people who have been recipients of organ transplants or individuals who have had cancer can be organ donors.
After Death Donations
After someone passes, many of this person's organs can be donated to use in life-saving procedures. Everything from the heart and kidneys to the skin and ligaments can be helpful in various operations.
Diabetics are able to register as donors, which can be done through organdonor.gov. You may also need to indicate on your driver's license and in your will that you have made the decision to be an organ donor.
Contributing to Science
People with type 1 diabetes can also choose to donate their organs to the cause: Scientists need the organs of individuals with diabetes for ongoing research about the cause, progression and treatment of the disease.
The Network for Pancreatic Organ Donors with Diabetes provides a way to register as an organ donor, including information about which organs you can donate.