With coronavirus (COVID-19) continuing to spread and blood drives getting cancelled, blood banks across the country are calling for people to donate blood to patients in need. Many patients depend on blood donations, including those with certain blood disorders who rely on regular transfusions to survive.
However, as with any tissue or organ donation, you need to make sure that your donated blood is safe. It surprises many folks to hear that despite good intentions, their eligibility to donate blood may be affected by the medications they’re taking.
Remember: Never stop taking your medication without discussing it with a healthcare provider first. Taking the following medications will not disqualify you as a blood donor forever, but you may be required to wait for a period of time following your last dose.
1) Acne medications related to isotretinoin
Accutane, Absorica, claravis, myorisan, sotret, and zenatane are all oral forms of isotretinoin used for severe acne. We know these medications can cause birth defects, and that’s why you will not be able to donate blood unless you took your last dose at least a month before your donation.
2) Finasteride and dutasteride
Proscar and Propecia are brand names for finasteride, a medication used for symptoms of benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH) and hair loss in men. Because finasteride can lead to birth defects in male babies, you’ll need to wait at least 1 month since your last dose before you can donate blood.
Dutasteride is similar. It comes in brand-name Avodart, which is used for hair loss and BPH in men, as well as Jalyn, which is a combination of dutasteride and tamsulosin used just for BPH. With these medications, you will have to wait at least 6 months since your last dose to donate blood, due to risks of birth defects in male fetuses.
3) Soriatane for psoriasis
Soriatane (acitretin) is a medication used to treat psoriasis. If you’re taking it, you’ll have to wait at least 3 years — yes, 3 years — after stopping it to donate blood. Acitretin use comes with the risk of severe congenital birth defects and death.
4) Antiplatelet medications
Antiplatelet medications like aspirin, Plavix, Ticlid, Effient, and Brilinta don’t affect waiting periods for donating blood. But they do affect platelet donation. You must wait at least 2 days after taking aspirin to donate platelets. For Plavix and Ticlid, you must wait at least 14 days after taking them to donate platelets.
Effient and Brilinta are also antiplatelet medications; they’re for folks who have coronary artery disease. While you don’t need to wait to donate blood with these, you must wait at least 7 days after taking them to donate platelets.
5) Blood thinners
Newer blood thinners like Fragmin, Eliquis, Pradaxa, Xarelto, and Lovenox are used to treat atrial fibrillation or blood clots in the legs (deep venous thrombosis). With these drugs, you will need to wait only 2 days after your last dose to donate.
6) Growth hormone injections
If you’ve used human pituitary-derived growth hormone at any time, you are not eligible to donate blood.
7) Aubagio for multiple sclerosis
Aubagio is a medication for multiple sclerosis. Researchers are still debating whether or not Aubagio causes birth defects. However, the Red Cross says you must wait at least 2 years after discontinuing the drug before you can donate blood.
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Note: Over-the-counter oral homeopathics, herbal remedies, and nutritional supplements are acceptable and will not exclude you from donating blood.
Hope this helps.
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