Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Can You Donate Plasma if You're Anemic?

Q: Can I donate plasma with iron-deficiency anemia? I keep going back to the plasma center, and the nurses keep denying me for having low iron levels in my blood. They said one more deferral and I'd be permanently banned from donating plasma. Thanks.

Answer: No, you can't donate plasma when you have (temporary) iron-deficient anemia. Normal iron levels in blood range between 60 mcg/dL and 170 mcg/dL - you can't be lower or higher than that.

If you have an iron level lower than 60 mcg (which they test for when they prick your finger), you'll be deferred from donating plasma for 1 day. If you continue to have low iron counts, you might have an underlying condition, like a hernia or untreated internal bleeding from an ulcer, so get it treated before you're permanently banned and can't donate plasma.

You can raise your iron levels to donate plasma by:

  • Taking 2 iron tablets in the morning before donating
  • Doing aerobic exercises (which increase red blood cell flow and help iron absorption)
  • Eating broccoli, kale, spinach, watercress, or other leafy vegetables
  • Eating dark purple fruits, like raisins, eggplant, and prunes
  • Eating black beans, or mixing black beans with other foods
  • Getting checked for chronic bleeding conditions

Causes and Symptoms of Iron-Count Anemia

While other forms of anemia, like sickle cell and B12 deficiency exist, iron anemia is the most common blood disorder. It causes symptoms such as:

  • Pale skin
  • Shaking
  • Fatigue
  • Jaundice
  • Stomach cramping

Why Can't I Donate My Plasma?

You can't donate plasma with low iron because iron is needed to create hemoglobin, and bind oxygen to red blood cells. Without this vital oxygen, you may get fatigued, or even pass out while donating blood plasma. If you keep having chronic anemia, go to your doctor to check for internal hemorrhaging or other bleeding disorders.

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