When natural disasters strike, it’s inspiring to see people come together to help those in need. Answering the call to donate blood is a great way to support those in need. January is Blood Donor Month, a reminder to consider a donation if you are healthy and eligible.
Those who live with arthritis or a similar type of joint pain may have questions about donating blood. Is it possible? Will donation centers allow it? Once upon a time, patients with rheumatoid arthritis were forbidden to give blood, but after research concluded that RA autoantibodies could not be transmitted to others through transfusion, the ban was lifted. (Source) If you wish to help your community in this capacity, it may be possible provided the following:
- You are not currently experiencing an arthritic flare-up or illness that prevents a donation.
- You are currently taking a medication for joint pain that makes you ineligible for donation. In some cases, you may need to wait an extended period of time after you finish the meds.
- You have not been diagnosed with a separate illness (e.g. HIV/AIDS, certain types of cancers) that would disqualify you from donating.
If you are uncertain about your eligibility, your orthopaedic doctor can advise you.
If you are cleared to give and this is your first time donating, keep in mind a few tips to ensure your continued comfort through the process:
- Hydrate well the day before your donation to keep up your energy and to keep your joints flexible.
- Add iron-rich foods like spinach and turkey to your diet beforehand. Blood with iron deficiencies may not be accepted.
- Ask a friend or relative to accompany you if possible so you do not have to drive.
- Hydrate with water over the next 24 hours after you donate so you do not experience any side effects.
See the Red Cross for more information on donating blood.