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Blood Donation - Are rheumatoid arthritis patients able to donate blood?


Updated October 23, 2005

Question: Blood Donation - Are rheumatoid arthritis patients able to donate blood?
Are rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients able to donate blood? Are people with other rheumatic diseases excluded from blood donation? It has been suggested that some people are turned away due to their disease or because of the medications they are taking. What are the guidelines for donating blood if the patient has rheumatoid arthritis or another autoimmune disease?
Answer: Patients with Sjogren's syndrome, lupus and scleroderma are not able to donate blood. In addition, most patients with rheumatoid arthritis will not be able to donate.

There are a number of reasons blood donation is not permitted.

  • Finally, it is costly to screen patients with these conditons because they may be more likely to have false positive tests for some of the infections that need to be detected, thus increasing the cost for the blood bank.

Rheumatoid arthritis patients only on NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), are permitted to donate. Policies of each blood bank may differ so if you are considering a donation, be sure to check with your local blood bank and provide them with your diagnosis and a complete medication list. If you do plan to donate blood, make sure you feel well.

Answer provided by Scott J. Zashin, M.D., clinical assistant professor at University of Texas Southwestern Medical School, Division of Rheumatology, in Dallas, Texas. Dr. Zashin is also an attending physician at Presbyterian Hospitals of Dallas and Plano. He is a fellow of the American College of Physicians and the American College of Rheumatology and a member of the American Medical Association. Dr. Zashin is author of Arthritis Without Pain - The Miracle Of Anti-TNF Blockers. The book is a must-have for anyone on one of the biologic drugs (Enbrel, Remicade, Humira) or considering the biologic drugs. Read my review of the book.

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