Giving Blood And Plasma: Can You Donate If You Have Diabetes?

Blood donation is a life-saving procedure. 

Once collected from a donor, blood can be given to someone who needs it to save their life. 

However, to ensure the safety of both the donor and the recipient, some guidelines and procedures must be followed. 

These guidelines include the age, body weight, overall health status, and other requirements that a person must meet to donate blood or plasma.

If you have diabetes and you want to donate blood or plasma, you may be wondering whether you’re still allowed to. 

In this article, we’ll tell you everything you need to know.   

Can you donate blood or plasma if you have diabetes?

Generally, people with diabetes who are healthy and have well-controlled blood sugars can donate blood or plasma if they meet the guidelines, regardless of the type of diabetes they have. 

Your blood sugar should be in a healthy range using medication, diet, exercise, or a combination of any of these management options.

However, it is important to note that the guidelines for blood donation in diabetics may differ across countries. 

For instance, in the UK, you cannot donate blood if you are on regular insulin or have used insulin within the last four weeks, according to the National Health Service (NHS).

In the US, guidelines state that if you use insulin that has been made from beef (bovine insulin), you cannot donate blood or plasma. 

The reason for this is that there is a risk of transmitting a certain disease called Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. However, this type of insulin has not been in use for decades now. Aside from this, you can donate blood while on other diabetic medications.

If your blood glucose is uncontrolled, and you wish to give blood or plasma, you should speak to your doctor, who can first help with your blood sugar control. 

You may be able to donate blood when you achieve better control, and you meet the other criteria for blood donation.

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How to prepare to give blood and plasma as a diabetic

You will need to prepare for your blood donation appointment like any other blood donor. But there are some extra things you should do as a diabetic:

  • Monitor your blood glucose levels regularly, especially in the days before and after donating blood.
  • Maintain a healthy diabetes diet to keep your sugar levels in check. You should eat iron-rich foods before giving blood, e.g., meat, fish, and spinach. Iron will help in the formation of new red blood cells after your blood donation.
  • You should stay hydrated. Water helps with blood circulation. Dehydration can decrease your blood volume and make your veins difficult to find during the procedure.
  • Rest well before and after the procedure.

Gather the necessary documents for your appointment. You will need to carry along identification like your passport or driver’s license to fill out some paperwork.

RELATED: What to Eat and Drink Before & After Donating Blood.

What to expect during blood donation with diabetes

Giving medical history

Before the procedure starts, you will need to provide some information as a donor and identification, like your passport. 

You will be asked some questions regarding your health and past medical history. Be sure to let them know that you are diabetic.

Checking your vitals

Next, your vital signs will be taken. These include your blood pressure, pulse, temperature, and respiratory rate. They may also check your blood sugar levels.

Your blood level will be checked to ensure that you have enough to give. If everything is fine, you can begin the process of donating blood.

Taking your blood

The healthcare worker will identify an area on your body to collect blood. This is usually on your arm, on the front part of your elbow. 

The area is then cleaned, and a needle is inserted to collect the blood. The blood goes into a bag. 

The procedure is pretty simple and lasts about ten minutes for one pint (a bag) of blood.

Taking your plasma

If you are donating plasma or some other form of blood product, it may take a longer time (two to four hours). 

In this case, your blood is drawn into a machine instead of a bag. The machine separates the plasma from the cells, and the rest of the blood can be infused back into your body. 

This process of separating the different parts of blood is called apheresis.

After donation

After the blood or plasma has been drawn, the puncture site is covered with a bandage. You will be asked to rest for some minutes before you leave. 

In some places, you may be offered a snack and/or a drink. If you are diabetic, you can bring an appropriate snack or drink for better blood sugar control.

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How does donating affect you as a diabetic? What to expect after

Stay hydrated and eat iron-rich foods to prevent anemia

Anyone who has donated blood should take care of themselves after the procedure. In the following days, try to stay hydrated as much as possible. 

Eat a healthy diet that is rich in iron to help replenish the blood you lost. This is important so that you do not feel unwell or get anemic from the blood loss.

Decreased blood volume

Your blood volume usually returns to normal a few days after you donate blood. But your red blood cells may take about three months to be restored.

HbA1C levels

If you have diabetes, try to monitor your blood sugar regularly after the procedure. Blood donation can affect your HbA1C level. 

It may appear lower than normal because of the decrease in blood volume. This is temporary. Be sure to let your healthcare provider know that you have recently donated blood.

High blood sugar in type 1 diabetics

Some people who have type 1 diabetes may have high blood sugar levels a few days following blood donation. 

Not everyone experiences this, but it is good to keep an eye out for it. If you do experience this, speak to your doctor about it.


  • Blood donation is a simple procedure that can save lives. Most people are encouraged to donate blood. 
  • But not everyone can. There are criteria you must meet for you to be a blood or plasma donor. These include your age and weight.
  • For individuals with diabetes who wish to donate blood, meeting specific criteria such as well-controlled blood sugar, overall well-being, and other requirements is essential.
  • Generally, it is safe for diabetics to give blood even if they are on medication – regardless of the type of diabetes you have. 
  • However, in the UK, you cannot donate blood if you are on regular insulin or have used insulin within the past four weeks.
  • If you have any other questions about blood donation eligibility as a diabetic, please reach out to your doctor.

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  1. World Health Organization. Who can give blood?
  2. Dean L. Blood Groups and Red Cell Antigens [Internet]. Bethesda (MD): National Center for Biotechnology Information (US); 2005. Chapter 1, Blood and the cells it contains.
  3. NHS Blood and Transplant. Give Blood. Diabetes.
  4. NIH Blood Bank. Can I Donate If…?
  5. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About CJD. Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.

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