Diabetes and Blood Donations: What You Need to Know

There is currently a huge blood shortage in America, mostly due to COVID-19, according to the American Red Cross. As of this spring, over 2,700 blood drives have been canceled across the country due to social distancing protocols set in place by governors and the CDC, and people’s fears about going out in public.

This has resulted in over 86,000 fewer blood donations, and drives are the main way the Red Cross receives blood (more than 80% of all donations come from public drives at schools, workplaces, and college campuses). This is causing a catastrophe for America: this blood shortage is impacting patients who need blood transfusions, organ transplants, victims of car accidents, people suffering from cancer, and thousands facing other life-threatening emergencies.

Gail McGovern, president and chief executive officer of the American Red Cross says, “We understand why people may be hesitant to come out for a blood drive but want to reassure the public that blood donation is a safe process and that we have put additional precautions in place at our blood drives to protect the health and safety of our donors and staff.”

So, if you’re looking to donate as a person with diabetes, what are the rules? Are you allowed to? Should you stay at home? Here’s what you should know before you go:

General Requirements for Donating Blood

To donate blood, a person will need to bring a driver’s license or two other forms of identification. Individuals who are 17 years old in most states (16 with parental consent where allowed by state law), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health are eligible to donate blood.

Most People with Diabetes Can Donate

Generally, if your HbA1c levels are in range (per your doctor’s recommendations), and you are in good health (with few or no diabetes complications), you are fine to donate blood. A caveat is anyone who injected bovine insulin after 1980 is ineligible from donating, due to a very small likelihood of having and thus spreading variant CJD, also known as mad cow disease. While no oral diabetes medications will preclude one from donating, there is a deferral list of medicines that can save one time before making the trip to donate.

Does Donating Blood Make You Go Low?

Not directly, no. While some people may feel faint or nauseous from giving blood, that’s due to losing blood (in the donation process), and not low blood sugar. Donating blood does not usually make one’s blood sugar rise or fall. That being said, before you donate make sure your blood sugar is in a healthy spot, and that you have a backup low snack in case you suddenly drop.

What Would Stop Someone from Donating Blood?

Common reasons you may be turned away from donating blood are:

  • You have a cold or flu
  • You have traveled outside of the United States recently
  • You have a low iron count
  • You do not meet the weight or height requirements
  • You take certain medications

Read more about eligibility requirements here.

Is It Dangerous to Give Blood During COVID-19?

Many people are afraid to go donate blood during the pandemic, but the Red Cross wishes to reassure people that it is extremely safe to give blood, and that donations are especially needed during this time. The Red Cross has implemented new measures to ensure blood drives and donations are even safer for donors, including:

  • Checking the temperature of staff and all donors, to screen for possible COVID-19 infection
  • Providing hand sanitizer for use before and during the donation process
  • Spacing beds to follow social distancing rules between blood donors
  • Increasing disinfection of surfaces and equipment

These enhanced protocols are in addition to the safety measures that the Red Cross already takes to ensure the health and well-being of every donor, which includes:

  • Wearing gloves and changing gloves regularly (between donors)
  • Routinely wiping down communal areas
  • Using sterile collection sets for every donation
  • Using alcohol swabs on donors to clean skin surface adequately

There is no data or evidence that COVID-19 can be transmitted by blood transfusion, and there have been no reported cases of transfusion transmission for any respiratory virus including COVID-19 worldwide, so donating blood is seen as an extremely safe activity.

Safety precaution: Bring and wear a face covering when donating blood and socially distance yourself from other donors at the center. | Photo credit: Adobe Stock

Safety Precautions If You Want to Donate

If you are willing and able to donate blood, that’s great! Keep the following things in mind as you head out the door:

  • Bring and wear a face covering at all times
  • Socially distance yourself from other donors while at the center
  • Bring along hand sanitizer (for when you touch communal things, i.e. a pen to sign-in at the front desk, etc.)
  • Bring along a low snack 
  • Bring your ID
  • Thank yourself for doing this important public service!

Gail McGovern adds, “As a nation, this is a time where we must take care of one another including those most vulnerable among us in hospitals. One of the most important things people can do right now during this public health emergency is to give blood. If you are healthy and feeling well, please make an appointment to donate as soon as possible.”

Have you donated blood, in the past or recently? How was your experience? Share your experience, and any advice you have, in the comments below; we love hearing from our readers.

Source: diabetesdaily.com

COVID-19: How Can I Help?

Right now, millions of us are stuck at home and feeling hopeless and helpless. While we pray for better days ahead, we have some time to focus our energy on doing greater good.

With schools and businesses closed, many families are going without food and paychecks. We have our healthcare workers who are working endlessly to save lives and they need food and supplies to stay safe and healthy. We have a massive blood shortage, we desperately need volunteers. Add in the need for support counselors, equipment, and numerous other resources, there’s a way for everyone to do their part.

No matter how you can help, monetarily or not, here are some ways to give back during these scary times.

Make Sure People Are Fed

Feeding America: Donations to the COVID-19 response fund will help food banks support the most vulnerable communities affected by the pandemic with their nationwide network of 200 food banks and 60,000 panties.  You can donate here or find your local food bank here.

Boys & Girls Club of America: Funds are used to provide groceries to children, as well as academic support, which is much needed during this time. You can donate here.

No Kid Hungry: Funds provide free access to meals for children in need. They recently provided $5 million in emergency grants to help schools and communities. You can donate here.

Feed the Children: Partnering with several agencies, including food pantries, shelters, soup kitchens and churches, this organization makes sure no child is left hungry. You can make a cash donation here. If you want to donate food or hygiene items call 1-800-627-4556.

Ronald McDonald House Charities: Housing may be affected during this time as they try to make room for healthcare workers. Donations will help to continue providing meals, housing and support for families of children with serious illness who must be away from home. Search for in-kind donations being accepted by your local chapter. You can donate money here.

Health Aid and Protection for Medical Personnel

COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund: This was created by the United Nations Foundation and the Swiss Philanthropy Foundation to support the World Health Organization in their effort to help at-risk countries monitor the spread of the virus, testing and vaccine development, and protective equipment for medical workers. You can donate here.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: The institute created an emergency response fund where you can give to local health departments, global efforts and protective gear for medical workers.

Direct Relief: The organization has made supply deliveries to the United States, China, the Caribbean and South America, specifically to help medical professionals protect themselves from COVID-19. You can donate here.

Partners in Health: The organization helps provide patients in developing countries with long term, dignified care. It will use donations to test more than 200,000 people, help international governments coordinate and help local community health workers find the right course of treatment. You can donate here.

Americares: The organization is putting its efforts into delivering supplies, leading support groups and skill-building workshops for healthcare workers all around the world. You can donate to them here.

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA):  They take any supply that you or your company may have of protective equipment or other medical equipment using this online form to propose what you are offering. May local local-term-care facilities and homeless shelters also need PPE, including hand sanitizer, gloves, masks, and disinfectant wipes so make sure to call those places in your area.

National Association for the Exchange of Industrial Resources: This association will collect inventory from businesses and delivers to schools, churches and non-profit organizations. Businesses can donate their goods by filling out this form or by calling 1-800-562-0955.

Salvation Army: Through its nationwide outreach, the Salvation Army ensures people have access to food, shelter and child care. Outreach includes food pickups, community-based food delivery, and meals at Salvation Army facilities. It also caters to first responders with hydration and snacks. You can donate here.

United Way Worldwide: By supporting local United Ways and the 211 network, a free emergency support service, that helps support communities struggling due to COVID-19. Funds help by helping families connect with food panties and aiding those in financial distress. You can donate here.

For the Children

Save the Children: Your donations will train health teams worldwide on how to protect themselves and prevent further spread of COVID-19. They are also providing protective equipment and other supplies front-line health staff need. In addition, they are protecting children and families that may be separated due to quarantine. You can donate here.

First Book: They deliver 7 million books to children in need. With schools closed down, many children are forced to do distance learning and many may not have a computer or internet service at home. Others may not even have a book to continue their reading skills. You can donate here.

Photo Credit: First Book

Mental and Emotional Support

National Disaster Distress Helpline: It provides 24/7, free and confidential emotional support to people affected by natural or human-caused disasters across the United States. Your donation will help them to build up their support team, support Helpline callers and texters, and help people get through this difficult time. You can donate here.

No Money Required

Donate blood: The American Red Cross has announced that there is a massive shortage of blood donations. Our medical professionals desperately need blood and platelet donations. If you are in good health, this is a great way to help your community. To find a blood donation location near you, you can visit the Red Cross site and make an appointment to donate platelets or plasma. And yes, the Red Cross is taking every precaution to ensure that you remain safe from COVID-19 when you go to donate.

Don’t hoard: We all want to make sure we have enough household items on hand but take only what you need.

Support local businesses: If you’re not in a position to spend extra money to support local places, one thing you can do is help promote them. If you follow them on social media make sure to like and share their posts. They will appreciate it!

Report price gouging: Many are taking advantage of the situation and charging an unreasonable amount of money for inexpensive items such as toilet paper and hand sanitizer. You should file a complaint with relevant government agencies, such as your state attorney general’s office if you witness any price gouging.

Foster a pet or volunteer: May local pet shops and shelters are having trouble getting staff to come in and care for the animals. And many of these animals need a loving home. Pet therapy can be a wonderful thing!

Grocery shop for a neighbor: If you are heading to the grocery store, make sure to ask any neighbors who may be alone, have preexisting conditions or be elderly. They will appreciate it and it will keep them out of harms way.

Share your experience: Want to help during this pandemic? Diabetes Daily donated our rapid research platform to help leaders respond to this pandemic.  Your anonymous insights on symptoms, social distancing, masks, the economy, and more will be analyzed by a talented group of epidemiologists and public health experts and shared publicly. Please take this 3 minute survey here.

If you happen to be a mental health or another health-related professional, you may want to volunteer your services. Look online for local opportunities to serve.

If you’re experienced in engineering, software development, etc. , there may be a need for your expertise in your area. Click here to learn more.

In times of crisis, it is so nice to see the world come together. People have been donating their time and money to help the lives of many. We can all be sure to contribute in some small way.

In what ways have you helped during the pandemic? Share and comment below!

Source: diabetesdaily.com