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People with MS Can Now Give Blood at the American Red Cross


Until recently, people with multiple sclerosis (MS) were not permitted to donate blood at American Red Cross donation centers. The ban has now been lifted because no scientific evidence exists that MS is contagious or can be transmitted via blood. As of May 2007, if other qualifications are met, blood from a person with MS may be donated to the American Red Cross.

Qualifications for Donating Blood
Some donor rules are specified by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for every blood bank in the country. Other rules are determined by the particular blood bank and differ between programs. Donor rules are intended to protect the health and safety of the donor as well as the recipient of the blood.

According to the American Red Cross, general guidelines state that in order to give blood, a person must be healthy, at least 17 years of age or 16 in some states, weigh at least 110 pounds, and must not have donated blood within the last eight weeks or have given a donation of double red cells within the last 16 weeks. “Healthy” means feeling well and being able to perform normal activities. People with chronic conditions must be undergoing treatment and the conditions must be under control. Most medications taken for a chronic condition will not disqualify a potential donor.

Procedures at Individual Donation Centers
Medical professionals are available at each blood collection center. Details of each donor’s health are discussed in a confidential manner. Final determination of eligibility is made at that time.

Each donor receives a brief examination before giving blood. This includes temperature, pulse and blood pressure readings, and a blood count (hemoglobin, and hematocrit—tests to determine if a person is anemic or may have an infection). Questions may be asked regarding travel.

Autologous Blood Donations
Making a donation to be used during your own surgery at a later date (called autologous blood donation) is a medical procedure for which eligibility rules are less strict than for regular volunteer donations.

For more information, visit the ARC's webpage.