Can People With Diabetes Donate Blood?

People with diabetes can donate blood if they meet certain eligibility requirements. In general, people with well-managed or controlled diabetes can donate blood. This includes people with diabetes who take insulin or oral medications for diabetes management. This is true whether you have type 1 diabetes or type 2 diabetes.

In this article, you’ll learn the factors contributing to whether or not someone with diabetes can donate blood. You’ll also learn more about how to prepare to donate blood when you have diabetes and what to expect after donating blood.

Man giving blood

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Diabetes: Influencing Factors in Who Can Donate Blood

Diabetes must be under control before donating blood. This means you’re able to maintain healthy blood sugar levels. This requires daily diabetes management with lifestyle habits that include a range of nutritious foods, exercise, and stress management. For some people, it may also require taking certain diabetes medications. 

If you have questions about other medications, you may be taking for diabetes management or other health conditions and how these impact your eligibility to donate blood, you can ask your healthcare provider or the staff at the blood donation clinic. Many medications are acceptable.

Gestational Diabetes and Donating Blood

People with gestational diabetes cannot donate blood due to pregnancy. The American Red Cross recommends waiting six weeks after giving birth before donating blood.

Other factors that can influence eligibility for donating blood include:

  • Current health status: People with flu or contagious illness should wait until 24 hours after their symptoms stop before donating blood. The definition of "current health status" may vary depending on the blood center.
  • Minimum weight and age: You must be at least 110 pounds and 16 years or older to donate blood (age requirements are state-specific). 
  • Iron levels: Blood iron levels must be within a healthy range. This means people with iron-deficiency anemia cannot donate blood until their iron levels meet a healthy range again.
  • Time between last blood donation: You’ll need to wait 56 days between each blood donation. Your healthcare provider may recommend waiting longer (i.e., four months) due to diabetes.
  • Travel history: People who have traveled to a malaria-risk country in the past three months can't donate blood, and people who have lived in a malaria-risk country disqualifies someone from donating blood for three years.

Donating Blood With Diabetes

There are things to keep in mind when donating blood if you have diabetes. You must consider how to prepare and recover.


Before donating blood when you have diabetes, there are a few ways to prepare to ensure a successful donation. Bear in mind you’ll need to share with the blood donation center that you have diabetes and whether or not you’re currently taking medication for diabetes. In addition, you may be asked a few additional questions about your health history.

Here are the steps to take before donating blood when you have diabetes:

  • Load up on iron-rich foods, including red meat, fish, poultry, beans, spinach, iron-fortified cereals, or raisins in the days (or weeks) leading up to your appointment.
  • Continue maintaining a diabetes-friendly diet to help with blood sugar levels (i.e., limit fried foods, desserts, and soft drinks)
  • Before your appointment, consume an extra 16 ounces of water or other non-alcoholic and non-caffeinated drink.
  • Sleep well the night before (i.e., aim for eight hours). 
  • Make sure you have a list of medications and two pieces of personal identification, like a driver’s license.


It's important to regularly check your blood sugar after donating blood. Contact your healthcare provider immediately if you feel unwell after donating blood or have difficulty managing blood sugar. 

Some tips for after-care include:

  • Have a diabetes-friendly snack after donating blood.
  • Keep the bandage on for a few hours to reduce the bruising risk.
  • Avoid alcohol for the next 24 hours.
  • Avoid heavy lifting or intense and strenuous exercise for the next 24 hours.
  • Increase water intake for the next few days.

Can Donating Blood Lower Your A1C?

Yes, whole blood donations can lower your A1C (blood sugar) levels for several weeks after donating blood. One 2017 study published suggested donating blood lowers A1C levels in people with type 2 diabetes and people living without diabetes.

The researchers concluded that after donating blood, people with type 2 diabetes might be at risk of falsely lowered levels of HbA1c (A1c). This may lead to inaccurate interpretations of blood sugar control from their healthcare provider or diabetes specialist. 

To prevent misreadings or to ensure your healthcare provider has all the necessary context to understand your readings, be sure to mention to your healthcare providers when you plan to and if you’ve recently donated blood (i.e., within the last few months).


People with type 1 or type 2 diabetes can donate blood as long as their diabetes is under control. Taking diabetes medications doesn't usually interfere with a person’s blood donation eligibility. Donating blood when you have diabetes requires continuing to take good care of yourself and following general requirements for preparing before and after donating blood. Remember that donating blood has been shown to lower A1c levels, so always let your healthcare provider know the last time you donated blood.

A Word From Verywell

If you’ve been having difficulty managing your diabetes, you’ll need to focus on this first. So while it’s admirable to want to give back to the community today, you may want to use the goal of donating blood to help you assess what’s missing from your current diabetes care plan. Speaking with your healthcare provider about the next steps is a great place to start.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • When would someone with diabetes not want to give blood?

    If your diabetes is well-managed, but you have recently given blood, you may not want to give blood until your A1c levels are more accurate. This may take two to four months, according to one observational study.

  • Is it safe for people with diabetes to get tattoos?

    Yes, it’s safe for people with diabetes to get tattoos. However, this is only true if the diabetes is well-managed or controlled. Otherwise, above-average blood sugar levels can complicate your tattoo healing process and even increase the risk of infection.

  • Does blood donation benefit people with diabetes?

    According to one study, blood donation may temporarily benefit people with diabetes. After donating blood, improved insulin production and blood sugar tolerance was observed. Improvement was particularly noticeable three weeks after donating blood. However, more research is needed to determine how blood donation can benefit people with diabetes.

9 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. American Red Cross. Eligibility criteria: alphabetical.

  2. America’s Blood Centers. Blood donation faqs.

  3. One blood. Yes I can.

  4. American Red Cross. What donors should know about iron and blood donation.

  5. Dijkstra A, Lenters-Westra E, de Kort W, et al. Whole blood donation affects the interpretation of hemoglobin A1c. PloS One. 2017;12(1):e0170802. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0170802

  6. American Red Cross. Tips for a successful donation.

  7. American Red Cross. What to do before and after your donation.

  8. Tattoos and diabetes.

  9. Borai A, Livingstone C, Farzal A, et al. Changes in metabolic indices in response to whole blood donation in male subjects with normal glucose tolerance. Clinical Biochemistry Journal. 2016;49(1-2):51-56. doi:10.1016/j.clinbiochem.2015.08.023

By Michelle Pugle
Michelle Pugle, BA, MA, is an expert health writer with nearly a decade of contributing accurate and accessible health news and information to authority websites and print magazines. Her work focuses on lifestyle management, chronic illness, and mental health. Michelle is the author of Ana, Mia & Me: A Memoir From an Anorexic Teen Mind.