A Time for Giving – by Helen May


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I have seen friends and colleagues give blood over the years. Before I was diagnosed with Diabetes (BD), I came up with excuses such as “I am busy then” to “I’ve read that you have to be over a certain weight to give blood and I’m not sure I am heavy enough”. Really I meant “I’m a coward who does not like big needles and would rather keep my blood to myself”.

Things changed after the diagnosis (AD) and needles became part of my life at least four times a day. In addition, there are the blood tests for Hb1AC before every check-up and the annual flu-jab and vaccinations for holidays and …. Although, I still look away when someone else sticks one in me, I am now braver when it comes to needles and have overcome my obstacle to giving blood.

At least, I thought I had overcome the obstacle: before, I wandered into one of those mobile blood donor vans, I thought I should check that my diabetes was not going to be an issue. First, I asked the nurse when I went for my diabetes check-up. She wasn’t sure. So, thinking she knew about blood, I asked the phlebotomist at my next blood test. She didn’t know.

As face to face questioning was not getting me anywhere, I thought I’d have a look at the blood donor website. There didn’t seem to be anything listed under “Who Can’t Give Blood” related to diabetes but the “Can I give blood?” health check was inconclusive.

So I sent an email and, finally, got an answer to the question:

“Does Type 1 diabetes preclude me from giving blood?”

The answer was:

“People with diabetes can give blood provided it is not treated with insulin.”

I put aside the frustration that (yet again) the difference between Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes was not understood. I was relieved to get an answer but disappointed that I cannot give.

Unfortunately, no reason was given for declining my blood. It looks ok to me and, after each finger prick, I can tell you it taste ok. I wonder whether it is a concern about the impact of giving blood would give to a donor with type 1 diabetes. Or, perhaps, the problem would be the affect the basal insulin still in my blood would have on the receiver.

I consider myself to be fit and healthy and, especially at this time of year, I would like to be able to give to others who are not as fortunate. As I mentioned in my last post, my health in terms of good diabetes control precludes me from participating in a clinical trial and, now, my health in terms of having Type 1 diabetes precludes me from contributing my blood. So, I will keep my blood and clinical results to myself. Instead, I give my money in terms of charity Christmas cards to give my thoughts of happiness and Christmas cheer.

Merry Christmas everyone!

If you’re interested in giving blood, or want to know more, have a look at the information on our website.

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I have Type 1 and recently looked into giving blood. I went to the blood donor website and like you could not find any information about diabetes, however, I did find a reference to needle use. According to the website anyone who has ever given themselves an injection is barred from giving blood.