Diabetics giving blood

A couple of weeks ago my school had a blood donor drive and I decided to donate some blood.
I went through the process of getting things tested/filling out forms/etc. After filling out the forms we had to go over them with one of the nurses. When she found out I was diabetic she told me I couldn’t donate blood, as taking that much blood from me could do weird things to my blood sugars. I was so disappointed, it was slightly pathetic.
I don’t like being told I can’t do things because of my diabetes, so I get frustrated and then the angry tears come haha.
But the nurse told me that even if I wasn’t diabetic, I still wouldn’t have been able to give blood because my blood pressure was too low and I was “too petite”. LAME!

Anyways, my question is: Has anyone donated blood before? And if so, how did it affect your blood sugar?

Hi Laura -

Thanks for bringing this subject up (diabetics and giving blood) - something I’ve wondered about.for awhile. Hope someone has some answers. However, I think the “petite” thing was stupid - what, petite people can’t give blood? As far as BP, what was it?

Hi Laura,

According to the American Red Cross websites own eligibility criteria listing, diabetics who are “well-controlled on insulin or oral medications” are eligible to donate blood. There have always been certain weight restrictions and the eligibility criteria on height/weight for students reads “You must weigh at least 110 lbs to be eligible for blood donation for your own safety. Students who donate at high school drives and donors 18 years of age or younger must also meet additional height and weight requirements for whole blood donation (applies to girls shorter than 5’6” and boys shorter than 5’)." I have donated blood on many occasions without adverse reaction, but was turned away many times as a young woman in my college days due to the height/weight restriction.

If the eligibility requirements continue to exclude you, perhaps you could volunteer time to help with the next blood drive. The Red Cross uses volunteers to call/schedule/confirm appointments with past donors and to “man” many of the stations where no “sensitive” information is collected. I’m sure they’d love to have your assistance.

Good luck to you and thank you for being willing to help.

Thanks for the replies guys.
Laura, I live in Canada so the American Red Cross doesn’t apply
But the weight restriction is the same here… which is what she meant by “too petite” lol

Cheri, I don’t remember the exact numbers but i think my systolic was like 80. Low blood pressure runs in my mom’s side of the family

Hi Laura

I’m in New England in the USA and I’ve donated twice. They didnt mind that I was type 1, so long as at the TIME of DONATION my BG was “normal”.

Low blood pressure would make it difficult for them to let you donate. :*(

Laura, it is wonderful that you are willing and wanting to donate. That shows where your heart is at.

I would venture to say that they are just overly particular in order to avoid complications and potential lawsuits, or other litigation. Too petite? That cracks me up. Hardly a definition of health or body structure.

Likely there is ignorance in the diabetes side of it, and again, rather than educate themselves, they probably just opt to say “no” to avoid any problems. I don’t see how it could affect your blood sugar levels, unless you had too many cookies and too much juice afterwards :slight_smile:

Many years ago, I was rejected because my BP was too high. I told them I would be perfect because I could fill the bag faster than anyone else, and get in and out quicker. They didn’t go along with it, and sent me home :wink: Low blood pressure? Hard to see how that could matter, but again, I think they are just taking the easy way out to avoid getting into any legal problems.

I like the idea of volunteering to do other things. It lets you help, and that is what appears to be the motivation of your heart, so maybe that could help you out.


I can’t donate blood because back in the dark ages I took an insulin that was beef/pork mixture, That was 25 years ago but there is a concern about mad-cow disease…

My sister has type 1 and although her local facilities do not want whole blood from people with diabetes, they do have a need for platelet or plasma donations (which take longer than donating whole blood), which she pretty regularly donates. Blood contains several components, including red blood cells, platelets, white blood cells and plasma. During a whole blood donation, donors typically donate a pint of blood. During platelet or plasma donation, your blood is collected and then separated into its components by a machine; the machine keeps the platelets or plasma and returns the rest to you. Your blood stays confined within a single-use sterile tubing kit and sterile equipment, so the process is completely safe. You should ask about all options that might be available to you as a would-be donor; just because whole blood may not be eligible doesn’t mean they don’t need your platelets or plasma!

I have donated blood before, and have been rejected before for many reasons other then diabetes. (low iron count being one and the second time I couldn’t fill the bag…). They state you can give blood in the US as long as you are under control. Things may be different in Canada with different rules and regulations. The first time I gave blood I actually passed out after giving the blood, but it actually didn’t affect my blood sugar at all.

I have been donating for several years with no problems here in Michigan. You can give blood as long as you are well controlled and never taken beef insulin. (It’s been about 35 years since they’ve even made that) My only problem is my iron is usually too low!

Scott, not that I have tried to give blood but your remark concerning animal insulin intrigued me. I also use to use beef/pork insulin back in the day. But I wasn’t aware there is a concern regarding mad-cow disease because we used those insulins. Thanks for the info.

I used to donate all of the time. I tried a few more times. They told me that they could only take my blood if my sugar was well controlled. They defined “controlled” as not below 60 or above 180 for the last 60 days. They said unless you had that type of control, the blood could be dangerous for a recipient, because they are typically in a fragile state, anyway. I gave up.

Yes, you can give blood as a diabetic. I’ve given blood since being diagnosed 13 years ago, although I pass out. I passed out before diabetes too, so its not new.

The nurse is mistaken. Low or high blood pressure, anemia or low weight would prevent you from donating. Diabetes shouldn’t.

Wow! Really Scott, that’s the reason you can’t donate blood? Now I know where the bristles on my face come from (thought it was old age).

Seriously tho’, I know here in Canada, as Laura has pointed out, we diabetics can’t donate blood. I asked this when I was donating my blood for a surgery (interesting watching a bag fill up with your own blood, a bigger drop then from your finger tip that’s for sure ). They had said tho’ that in the US, if you were in control, you could donate. Interesting how things differ from one country to another.

I am curious what they give you to eat, or what do you go and eat after you give blood? I never could donate, but its a standard line on TV shows that you have to lay down a bit, and need some juice or nourishment afterwards, or is that just an urban legend?


When my friend gave blood they had juice boxes and cookies at a table that you could take. They do make you lie down for a while, at least they did at my school. My friend started to feel kind of dizzy and faint so they reclined the bed all of the way and put ice on her neck and forehead. It was kind of funny because they all rushed into like emergency mode.

Hi Laura,

Yeah, here in the States, as long as your BGs are normal at the time of donation, (and you meet the other requirements (including not being too petite, lol)) you are allowed to donate. I’ve heard from a couple of people that you need to have good BGs at the time so that the blood doesn’t cause any problems for people when they use it later on. Imagine if one of us donated while we were really hypo. A normal healthy person getting that bag of blood would get their first ever case of hypoglycemia!

I agree - never been turned away to donate as long as BG is acceptable at the time of donation. A Blood Pressure of 80 systolic, however, would get you disqualifed in NY (Long Island) anyway.

just donated was BS = 120 before and 121 immediately after. I’ve given blood many times and have never been denied because of my diabetes. reading the warning notices you’re not ilegible if you have used insulin produced from cows (fear of mad cow diesase I presume)

today they had juice, cookies and hard pretzels. luckily they also had bottles of water. so I went for that