I’m 22 years old and have cystic fibrosis. I consider myself to be in good shape. I play sports regularly and rarely need to be hospitalized. Blood donor clinics are often held at the university I attend. Is it safe for me to give blood? If so, how many times a year?
Most people with cystic fibrosis shouldn’t give blood. In fact, the first requirement for giving blood is that the donor be in good health.
Blood donations must not cause problems in the recipients. Most people with cystic fibrosis who are old enough to give blood have chronic bronchial infections, and there is a chance that the bacteria could end up in their blood at some point. Blood containing bacteria could cause infections in the receivers. Moreover, people with cystic fibrosis often take antibiotics, which also end up in the blood. It is important to know that receivers could be allergic to one of these antibiotics and develop a reaction following a blood transfusion.
The majority of people with cystic fibrosis have a malabsorption problem due to pancreatic insufficiency, which is treated with enzymes and nutritional vitamin supplements. Although anemia is infrequent thanks to these treatments, people with cystic fibrosis often have low iron reserves. If a person with low iron reserves donates blood, he or she may become anemic.
In light of the above points, the only people with cystic fibrosis who could qualify to be blood donors are those with a very minor form of the disease. This includes individuals who don’t need pancreatic enzymes or nutritional supplements; people who do not suffer from bronchiectasis; and those who take antibiotics only when needed, and have not taken them 72 hours before donating.