Why You Should Seriously Consider Donating Blood

A photograph of a person in a short-sleeve blue shirt having their blood drawn from a doctor in a blood drive

Have you ever considered donating blood? Now would be an ideal time. The American Red Cross announced a blood crisis earlier this year, citing its worst blood shortage in over a decade. Donors are needed as the decline in donations has caused the Red Cross’ blood supply to shrink to nearly 20% in recent weeks. Type O negative blood donors are especially in demand. Usually a single blood donation will be used for two or three patients. Blood donations are one of the most important things you can do to help others in need.

Can cannabis users donate? 

Yes you can donate blood if you use cannabis. The red cross does ask that you do not show up lit but they do not discourage cannabis consumers from donating blood. They encourage all eligible donors that feel well to make an appointment. Eligibility to donate blood is regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, not the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. The FDA does not require blood collectors to test for THC and the Red Cross does not test blood for THC. 

How to donate blood

Simply download the American Red Cross Blood Donor App, visit RedCrossBlood.org, call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or enable the Blood Donor Skill on any Alexa Echo device to make an appointment or for more information.

What you would need to bring:

A blood donor card or driver’s license or two other forms of identification are required at check-in. Individuals who are 17 years of age in most states (16 with parental consent where allowed by state law), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood. High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also have to meet certain height and weight requirements.

The FDA and their ridiculous policy 

The absurdity and continued stigma from the FDA’s policy deferring men who have sex with men from donating blood is ridiculous and the policy needs to change. Currently gay or bisexual men are to abstain from sex for a minimum of three months before they can donate blood. This policy was just established in April 2020 in response to the drastic decline in donations.  The current three-month deferral period singles out and bans blood donors based on their inherent attributes rather than the risk factors they present. A man or woman who has unprotected sex with one or multiple partners of the opposite sex is fine but a man who has protected sex with another man in the three months prior to a blood donation cannot be a donor.

This policy is ineffective and we all know it but the fact remains that we still need blood donations for our loved ones, our community and possibly ourselves. It is a way for us to truly pay it forward.  There is no substitute for human blood and it cannot be manufactured. People are the only source. 

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