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Can Type 1 Diabetic Donate Plasma?

Blood donation is an important part of any medical system. While there are various medications and devices that can help take over parts and processes in the body that do not work as they should, blood is not one of them.

When someone needs a blood transfusion or a transfusion of another kind of blood product, only that will do. So there are many calls from medical professionals to donate blood. Most blood donation centers say that healthy people are needed to donate blood but don’t give specifics.

If you have diabetes, either type 1 or type 2, you may wonder if you are able to fit into that category. Here’s how to determine if you can donate blood or plasma.

What is Plasma?

Blood is not one thing but rather a mixture of four different parts: red blood cells, white blood cells, plasma, and platelets. Donating whole blood means that you are donating all of these parts.[1] But whole blood is not the only way blood can be donated. The different parts, including plasma, can be donated separately.

Plasma is a liquid that carries the other three elements of blood around the body. It makes up around 55 percent of blood volume. Plasma is more than just transport for other blood cells – it contains antibodies needed for immune function.[2]

Plasma also contains proteins that make blood clot, carry electrolytes around the body, and helps keep blood pressure and body pH at safe levels. Products made of plasma are given to those with immune problems, clotting disorders, and those who have been severely injured or burned.[3]

Plasma donations are almost identical to the donation of whole blood. A needle is placed in the vein, and whole blood is drawn out. A machine attached to the needle separates the plasma from the red cells as the blood comes out. Once this is done, your red cells are returned to your body by the same needle. This process takes around 35 minutes. Plasma can be donated as often as every two weeks.[4]

US/UK Donor Requirements

Each country is allowed to set its own blood and plasma donation requirements. Because of that, whether a diabetic can donate blood depends on where the diabetic plans on donating.

There are some requirements for donating blood or plasma that are fairly universal. To donate, you must be:

  • At least 17 years old
  • Weigh at least 110 lbs/50 kgs
  • Not have any temporary illness such as a cold or the flu
  • Have accessible veins[5][6][7][8]

Most organizations that let you donate blood or plasma also specify that you must be “healthy.” This doesn’t mean you have to have no medical conditions to donate plasma, but some rule you out.

In the United Kingdom (UK), the rule is fairly simple: if you have type 1 diabetes, you are not able to donate blood or blood products like plasma. If you have type 2 diabetes and currently take insulin, you are also not eligible to donate. This is because blood donations are considered to be too much of a risk to the donor’s insulin levels. Type 2 diabetics who do not take insulin or those who are prediabetic are permitted to donate.[9]

In the United States (US), both type 1 and type 2 diabetics can donate blood or plasma if their diabetes is well controlled by medication, insulin, or diet.[10] If you are diabetic and take insulin, check to see what form of insulin you take and any others you have taken in the past. If you have ever taken insulin that comes from beef, you cannot donate because of the risk of certain rare conditions associated with the consumption of beef or beef products.[11] Beef-derived insulin has not been used in the US since 1998, so if you have only used insulin after that period, you should be safe.[12]

People with diabetes who have some form of heart complication are not eligible to donate in the US or the UK.[13][14]

Risks of Donating Plasma with Diabetes

Since type 1 diabetics are barred from donating plasma in the UK because it may be a risk to them, you may wonder if donating may cause you harm. There is no one answer to this.

One study found that diabetics who made blood donations had a decreased amount of hemoglobin (iron in the blood) for a significant period of time after the donation. All type 1 diabetic had this, while 52 percent of the non-diabetics and 46 percent of the type 2 diabetics had this. While the study only covered whole blood donations, it’s something to keep in mind.[15]

Another study found that a group of non-diabetic men who donated blood had improved glucose tolerance after donating blood. So it’s possible that some markers of diabetes can improve after donating blood.[16] Other studies have found that type 2 diabetics have decreased insulin resistance after donating blood.[17]

Can Type 1 Diabetic Donate Plasma?

Whether type 1 diabetics can donate plasma depends on where they live. Type 1 diabetics in the US can donate plasma if they have no heart complications and have never taken beef-derived insulin. In the UK, type 1 diabetics cannot donate plasma or any other kind of blood product.

Preparation to Donate Plasma with T1D

The process for donating plasma in someone with type 1 diabetes is very similar to that in someone without diabetes. However, there are a few extra things you should know.

  • Bring any instruments you use to measure blood glucose with you, as well as a list of all medications you take.
  • Eat your usual diet in the meals before you donate.
  • When you get your vital signs checked, tell whoever is taking them you have diabetes and any medications you take for it.
  • You may want to bring your own drinks and snacks with you. After donation, you will be required to sit for fifteen minutes or so and eat or drink something. You can ordinarily eat if there is nothing there, which may lead to a problem.


Can Diabetics Donate Blood?

In the United States, any type of diabetic may donate blood if their diabetes is under control. However, if they take or have taken insulin made from beef sources, they cannot donate blood. In the United Kingdom type 1 diabetics may not donate blood, but type 2 diabetics can donate if they do not take insulin.

Does Donating Plasma Affect Blood Sugar?

Some studies have shown that blood glucose and overall insulin resistance are improved after donating whole blood. There is currently no research to indicate the same thing occurs with blood plasma, but it is possible it does so.

Can I Donate Plasma if I Take Metformin?

In both the UK and the US, you may donate plasma while taking Metformin. If you are donating in the UK, you must have been on your current Metformin dose for four weeks or longer.

Final Thoughts

Donating blood is one of the best ways you can help other people in medical need. If you live in the US, diabetes is not a barrier to donating if you meet the other requirements. Type 1 diabetics in the UK are unable to donate but can do other things to help in blood and plasma donations, like volunteer at a donation clinic.


  1. Whole Blood Donation. (n.d.). American Red Cross.
  2. About plasma. (n.d.). NHS Blood Donation.
  3. Plasma Information. (n.d.). American Red Cross.
  4. How to donate plasma. (n.d.). NHS Blood Donation. Retrieved January 18, 2023, from
  5. Eligibility | Lifeblood. (n.d.).
  6. Eligibility Requirements. (2019). American Red Cross.
  7. Who can give blood. (2019). NHS Blood Donation.
  8. ABCs of eligibility to donating blood. (n.d.).
  9. Editor. (2019, January 15). Unfortunately, people with diabetes wont, in most cases, be eligible to give blood. At least, not in the UK. Diabetes.
  10. Can I Donate If…? | Clinical Center Home Page. (n.d.). Retrieved January 18, 2023, from
  11. Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research. (2019). vCJD and pdFVIII Questions and Answers. U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
  12. Center. (2019). Importing Beef or Pork Insulin for Personal Use. U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
  13. Editor. (2019, January 15). Unfortunately, people with diabetes wont, in most cases, be eligible to give blood. At least, not in the UK. Diabetes.
  14. Eligibility Requirements. (2019). American Red Cross.
  15. Dijkstra, A., Lenters-Westra, E., de Kort, W., Bokhorst, A. G., Bilo, H. J. G., Slingerland, R. J., & Vos, M. J. (2017). Whole Blood Donation Affects the Interpretation of Hemoglobin A1c. PLOS ONE, 12(1), e0170802.
  16. Borai, A., Livingstone, C., Farzal, A., Baljoon, D., Al Sofyani, A., Bahijri, S., Kadam, I., Hafiz, K., Abdelaal, M., & Ferns, G. (2016). Changes in metabolic indices in response to whole blood donation in male subjects with normal glucose tolerance. Clinical Biochemistry, 49(1), 51–56.
  17. Fernandez-Real, J. M., Penarroja, G., Castro, A., Garcia-Bragado, F., Hernandez-Aguado, I., & Ricart, W. (2002). Blood Letting in High-Ferritin Type 2 Diabetes : Effects on Insulin Sensitivity and -Cell Function. Diabetes, 51(4), 1000–1004.

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