Having had COVID-19 does not prevent donating blood

A history of COVID-19 does not prevent you from donating blood unless you have a critical clinical condition. In 2019 Mexico ranked among the countries with the lowest voluntary donation rates, 3.1 percent.

Having had COVID-19 does not prevent donating blood
In June, the National Week of the Voluntary Donor of Blood and its Components is held. Photo by Nguyễn Hiệp / Unsplash

Donating blood helps to save millions of lives a year; although the numbers of this voluntary action decreased considerably during the period of confinement due to the pandemic, there is no contraindication for providing it due to SARS-CoV-2 infection, assures Norma Candelaria López Santiago, an academic at the Faculty of Medicine (FM) of the UNAM, Norma Candelaria López Santiago.

So far it has not been proven that the disease is transmitted through blood and, according to her experience at the National Institute of Pediatrics, there were some cases of donors who a few days after donating blood reported that they had COVID-19, so the blood was checked again without finding any problems in it, says the expert from the Division of Graduate Studies of the FM.

On the occasion of the National Week of the Voluntary Donor of Blood and its Components, which takes place during the second week of June, the researcher details that this year the campaign is being carried out again in 2020 and 2021 conditions did not exist to carry it out.

"What could be a contraindication to donate after suffering COVID-19, is the clinical picture that has been had. If the person has had a lot of pulmonary damage, has respiratory difficulty, or has sequelae of myocardial involvement or thrombosis, it is better not to donate. In addition, it is recommended to wait at least three months after having suffered the disease," the specialist points out.

Mexico is one of the countries that donate the least, which is why messages are constantly broadcast on radio, television, and social networks in search of volunteers.

According to a document prepared by the Scientific and Technological Consultative Forum, AC (2019), the countries with the highest number of voluntary altruistic donors are Costa Rica (68.1 percent), Colombia (86.1 percent), and Cuba (100 percent); while Mexico is below, with rates of 3.1 percent.

Part of the reasons for these figures, the researcher analyzes, is that this practice is not part of the education in our country, which is important to change because there are always patients who require transfusion of whole blood or its derivatives, in the safest possible way.

"For example, in the National Institute of Pediatrics donations are made to a good extent by relatives, so that when you have a patient you ask for a donation as part of the requirements. With the pandemic, it had to be reduced, for obvious reasons, but there have been altruistic donation and Blood Bank campaigns mainly in schools, companies, and universities", comments Lopez Santiago.

Unlike in previous years, the donation is becoming easier, since there are blood banks that receive volunteers 24 hours a day, they are only asked to fast for a minimum of four hours before the procedure to avoid fat.

An incentive is that the donor is shown the equipment to be used, both the one to be drained and the bag where the blood will be collected, new equipment in sterile packages, and he/she is also informed what type of products are required: whole blood (one liter), plasma or platelets, says the university expert.

She estimates that people show greater sensitivity and availability when they know that the donation is for a child; however, the best incentive is to tell them that the donation helps to save a life.

Essential to know about donating blood

Blood is a fluid that supplies animal cells and tissues with essential substances such as oxygen, sugars, nutrients, and hormones. It also removes waste materials, which are not necessary, such as carbon dioxide, urea, and lactic acid. To donate platelets, it is necessary to wait three months between donations.

Platelets contribute to the formation of clots that help heal wounds and prevent bleeding; red blood cells are in charge of oxygen transport and white blood cells help fight infections and other diseases. In this case, they can be donated frequently (with a difference of one or two weeks between each donation) and are especially useful to help people with cancer and blood problems.

It is also possible to donate (with the same frequency) plasma, which is the liquid part of the blood and contains proteins, hormones, vitamins, cholesterol, sugar, and minerals.

It is worth remembering that on September 12, 2019, the Mexican Government decreed, through the Official Gazette of the Federation, that the second week of June of each year will be the Week of the Voluntary Donor of Blood and its Components.

Source: UNAM Press Bulletin