donating blood with lyme disease

Will the Red Cross near you take your Blood if you have Chronic Lyme Disease?

So far after investigating several states on the Red Cross Site, we have found only Ohio saying donating blood with lyme diseasethat Chronic Lyme Disease is a deterrent from donating blood. We sent them an email asking if this was an over sight and the websites just needed to be updated and here is the response we got back from The Red Cross:

“Dear Lisa Hilton,
Thank you for contacting the American Red Cross. We appreciate your time and willingness to keep our blood supply at a safe level by wanting to donate at one of our collection sites. In regards to your question and the information you provided donors who have chronic Lyme disease and are constantly showing symptoms they are not eligible to donate until they are fully recovered, symptom free and have completed their course of treatment. In regards to  chronic Lyme disease, different blood banks do have different requirements concerning  eligibility criteria for  blood donors.

If you have any other questions or concerns please feel free to contact us by replying back to this email or by calling 1-866-236-3276. Have a great day and once again thank you for taking the time to contact us.

Thank you,
Scherrie Campbell
DCSC Eligibility Specialist
American Red Cross
Donor and Client Support Center
9013 Perimeter Woods Drive, Suite J
Charlotte, NC 28216 (866) 236-3276 (toll free)
(888) 719-3535 (f) ”

Hmmm, does our next Lyme rally have to be at the Red Cross center? Should we do an emailing campaign to ask them to change the guildeilnes in every state? I mean if it is dangerous to donate blood if you have chronic Lyme in Ohio, woulnd’t it be so everywhere?

Or maybe it’s the FDA we need to contact, since he FDA is actually the agency that sets the testing requirements for blood products. The Red Cross is a company that collects, tests, manufacturers, and distributes blood products following FDA guidelines and other accrediting agencies, such as AABB. So how do we approach this? Please add your ideas in the comment section below.
From the FDA Site:
“FDA is responsible for ensuring the safety of the Nation’s blood supply. While a blood supply with zero risk of transmitting infectious disease may not be possible, there are several measures taken by FDA to protect and enhance the safety of blood products.”

Here are some examples of what each states guidelines are:

Regarding infections: Only Babesia discludes you. No mention of Lyme disease.
Contact Red Cross Here

Babesia is a deterrent but Lyme disease is not mentioned.
See Eligibility Requirments Here
Contact Red Cross Here

New York:
Babesia is a deterrent but Lyme disease is not mentioned.
See Eligibility Requirments Here
Contact Red Cross Here

Regarding Lyme Disease: “Lyme Disease Accept persons with Lyme disease if they were treated, the disease resolved and at least 1 year has passed. Those with chronic Lyme disease are not eligible to donate blood.”
Click Here for Eligibility Requirments
Contact Red Cross Here

South Dakota:
Babesia is a deterrent but Lyme disease is not mentioned.
Click Here for Eligibility Requirements
Contact Red Cross Here

Regarding Infections: Only Babesia di No mention of Lyme Disease.
Contact Red Cross Here

Utahs Red Cross Page
abesia is listed as a deterrent but Lyme disease is not mentioned.
Contact Red Cross Here

Regarding Infections: If you have a fever or an active infection, wait until the infection has resolved completely before donating blood. Wait until finished taking antibiotics for an infection (bacterial or viral). Wait 10 days after the last antibiotic injection for an infection. Those who have had infections with Chagas Disease or Babesiosis are not eligible to donate.
Regarding Chronic Illnesses: Most chronic illnesses are acceptable as long as you feel well, the condition is under control, and you meet all other eligibility requirements.
Contact Red Cross Here

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31 thoughts on “Will the Red Cross near you take your Blood if you have Chronic Lyme Disease?”

  1. I have had Lyme, babs, bart, mycoplasma for 8 years…I just got diagnosed with lyme 2 years ago and just started treatment a month ago….. I was originally diagnosed with Fibro. I donated blood many times while I was living in Missouri. The guilt I have is horrific. I recently called the local blood bank here in Modesto Ca and asked them if they screened the blood for lyme or babs since on their form it says if you have or have had Lyme you cannot donate.. They told me no… I explained how I actually had lyme and was misdiagnosed with fibro and gave blood many times and how imperative it is to screen all blood..They just basically just blew me off….. I think for my May awareness I will go to Delta Blood Bank and The Red Cross…Hopefully it will make a difference… We can hope because the guilt of knowing I have infected whoknows how many is a horrible nightmare for me….

    1. Aww Shannon, Im so sorry, dont feel guilty please. It wasn’t your fault. I have tried to deal with the Red Cross too and its frustrating the lack of caring on their part. I love your plans to keep trying to educate them for May awareness month. Hope you find your answers to help you get well again. Thanks for stopping by the website.

  2. I live in Florida. I donated blood with no problem. I have ab positive blood type and I was asked to donate plasma. My plasma was rejected. That’s when I found out I had a problem..Chronic Lyme disease. My blood must have been used because I never heard anything about it.

  3. Good blog. Great research Lisa. The Red Cross is just one more organization that is misinformed and misguided. What does it mean to be ‘fully recovered’? I don’t think we’re talking about the same disease as they are.

  4. What if you don’t know..are they going to test it and let you know.or are they just saying if you have lyme they are won’t take your blood?

  5. A study in California in 1995 found that 20% of the control group had asymptomatic Babesia duncani. The control group was a randomly chosen group from a Sacramento blood bank. Currently, the only way they decide that you can’t donate blood is if you declare you have ever been diagnosed with Babesia. If you are asymptomatic, you are extremely unlikely to have ever been tested much less diagnosed. So blood bank’s minimal “protection” is useless. Blood banks should be testing all blood for Babesia, but then they would have to admit how prevalent it is.

    1. I have been having trouble locating the 1995 study you mention. Do you have a link or reference or name of authors? Thanks!

  6. I went in to donate and filled light the entire form to make sure I didn’t miss the Lyme question. I then said to the woman, “You don’t test for Lyme, what if I’m not sure if I have it?” She said “If you could deal with the fact that the blood may go to a baby and what it could do to that baby then donate away.” I was appalled!!!!

  7. Why on earth would you want to give blood if you have chronic Lyme? It’s a blood-borne illness. My doctor told me not to donate ever again unless I want to give people Lyme. I would never want to share this with anyone.

  8. A couple years ago, I called Canadian Blood service in Vancouver BC Canada. I told them I had a few bull eyed rashes more than 10 years ago and was never treated. The standard Lyme blood test was negative twice. Can i donate blood?
    Q: you had bull eyed rash and your blood test is negative?
    A: yes. i’ve never been treated for Lyme disease.
    Q: you had bull eyed rash?
    A: yes.
    Q: your blood test is negative?
    A: yes.

    Canadian blood service concluded that i could donate blood without ever asking if i have had any symptoms, my quality of life etc. this is very scary. how many people have been infected with Lyme via blood transfusion and organ donation! Especially, we know that male who is infected with Lyme are usually asymptomatic. And, bull eyed rash only occurs in a certain percentage of people, so one can carry Lyme without knowing. The Lyme documentary that i’ve seen doesn’t even investigate this!

  9. I would like the IDSA to answer this question among many. If Babesia infection is treated with the time allotment granted by them what is lifetime band instilled in Red Cross. According to infectious disease doctors this is another infection that is eradicated with certain treatment. Now it looks like to me they are saying once infected always infected?

  10. When I moved back to Michigan three years ago, and I was changing my address at the Secretary of State’s office, a blood drive rep and an organ donation rep were there talking to all the people waiting in line. When they handed the clipboard to me to sign up, BOTH of them took the clipboard right back when I told them I had lyme disease. ( I knew I couldn’t sign up, but I wanted to see what their response would be when I asked about lyme disease). It made me think…if the Red Cross won’t accept my blood, and I can’t donate my organs, why does the CDC say lyme can be cured in 28 days of antibiotics and why won’t insurance companies won’t pay for treatment??? It is such a double-standard and so depressing. I have spent my entire retirement fund and life savings on treatment the past eight years, and now I am threatening my parent’s retirement. So unfair.

    1. You have been in treatment for 8 years and you’re still not doing better? I really believe that people should understand that in some cases it is just not lyme disease. I mean 8 years of treatment should have cleared the infection.

  11. I keep ‘threatening’ to go to a blood drive because there is no such thing as chronic Lyme. I would never do it, idle talk from an extremely frustrated TBD (tick-borne disease) survivor, 7 or 8 to be exact. So far the bouncing & flopping my body does always stops but I sometimes wonder if it would be better if it was constant so I can get the point across that this is not a disease to be taken lightly. Also, I had to take the organ donor off my drivers license. I asked my Lyme Dr. about this & they concurred. I just hope they get the blood bank testing sorted out, people who need blood need not get more problems.

  12. Wow, so Anyone with late stage lyme can donate not to mention everyone whp donates because they think they have fibro or something else when they have lyme with test so faulty.

  13. I have worked previously for the American Red Cross in Charlotte, at both the National Testing Lab where I tested donor samples for viral markers, and then at the Region where I worked in Quality Control. Later on I took a job as a Quality Assurance Specialist for a plasma donor center (different company). What I can tell you about this business, is that each company has a certain amount of latitude granted them by the FDA in what they test for. There are certain things that are federally required, such as HIV, HTLV, HBsAg; and then there are tests that are not required by the FDA but are still tested in many blood banks across the country, such as ALT level (a liver enzyme that may or may not indicate possible hepatitis infection) and HBCore Ab that only determines if one has possibly been exposed to hepatitis B at some point.

    It seems to me that the ARC’s policy on chronic lyme stems from ignorance of the disease and that the FDA doesn’t have any directives (yet) concerning lyme. Because of this, I would suggest that you contact the FDA and request that they impose a universal directive on ALL bloodbanks, requiring them to ask every donor about lyme and to refuse all possibly contaminated units.

    Good luck, Lisa!

    1. To test for Lyme is extremely difficult there are up to five complex bacteria and one virus spirochete that has 132 geone it is called the great imperator suphulus is it’s cousin but has only 25geone so lyme is 5 times more complex LYME will make aids look like a little cold so the world really need to understand how bad this really is you can get it from ticks fleas mosquitoes raw cows milk sex tears and the list gose on blood generally needs to be heated infrared and purified to be safe cheres

  14. Isn’t it true that Lyme Bacteria stay forever in your body… That there’s NO CURE FOR LYME… Although you are in REMISSION/FUNCTIONAL after many and different antibiotic and alternative treatments. Can we then still give blood? Isn’t it RISKY TO Donating Blood at any stage of Lyme Disease

    1. You just hit the nail on the head. Of course the bacteria never leaves the body and it would normally be dangerous to donate blood at any point after getting infected. In my opinion and have heard it from my LLMD is that almost 70% of the population carries a strain of borrelia but they just don’t get sick.

      Like June said, if they don’t accept blood from chronic lyme patients, then why don’t they actually admit the illness exists in the chronic form as well?

  15. Looks like Red Cross is running scared, gets more and more interesting every day, looks like someone in the medical industry is starting to see dollar signs floating in their heads because they don’t take it seriously otherwise. As it is they had a one question line, have you ever had babesiosis that they ask you every time you go give, well who knows what the heck that is, Infections can occur without producing symptoms.

  16. Well if you will not accept blood from chronic Lyme humans than you really need to accept the fact that this is a real and serious disease that you have failed to let it be known it is real and denie treatment …..

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