Giving Blood with Epilepsy

In March, just after the lockdown started, I gave blood.

I’ve donated blood before, a few times; but it’s always been a bit scary for me. My seizures aren’t completely under control. My control depends on the amount of drugs I have in my blood. What if I have a seizure after giving blood? What if I have a seizure while giving blood? Can the drugs in my blood harm someone else receiving it?

I thought I remembered my doctor telling me that there was no reason I couldn’t give blood. So I decided to go for it.

With all the health precautions in place, I didn’t know what to expect. It was all kind of spooky. We waited in the parking lot until someone waved me in. Temperature taken as soon as I got in the door. They took my blood pressure, had me fill out a form online, and showed me to a chair. They were only allowing two people at a time in the room.

It wasn’t long until I was sitting with an interviewer. Table, chair, keyboard were wiped down with disinfectant between patients. I hadn’t been asked about my epilepsy yet – maybe the lady would ask. But she didn’t. She took my temperature (again), checked my blood pressure (again), and took a finger stick to check my iron level. Then straight on to the table.

They weren’t taking any chances here, either. There were three beds, and they only used two while they were disinfecting the third. I lay down and they stuck me in the arm. It hurt more than I thought it would. I guess they use a bigger needle than the lab does.

After another ten minutes, it was done. I got an “I gave blood” sticker, grabbed some water and a couple of snack bags, and went back out to the car and home again.

I was glad I went. There’s always a great need for blood, especially during a time of widespread illness. Donating blood is a small way for to help others.

I was surprised that no one asked me about my epilepsy, or the last time I had a seizure. If you go to donate blood, do call and check first to make sure they’ll accept you. Different countries, and maybe even different blood services, have different rules for this.

If you can, I really encourage you to donate. People need blood. Especially now. Blood is vital for people in urgent need of care – and it’s something many can do.

Give blood through the American Red Cross or Vitalant (formerly United Blood Services). Or check with your local authorized to see how you can donate.

Live well, be strong, and own your epilepsy!

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