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I've donated blood in the past through the American Red Cross, but when I went to donate it asked me if I have ever taken insulin that came from a cow or pig. I didn't give blood that day.

I remember seeing a girl at the diabetic camp that I went to who had a shirt on saying "Pigs are precious" and I asked her about that and she told me that's where her insulin came from. That shirt stood out to me, but I can't even remember if my insulin came from pigs.

Here's my history. I was diagnosed in 1980 & used to take Lente & Regular insulin produced by Lily. I don't have any other type of information about the insulin itself. I don't know if my insulin switched or I started out on human insulin.

I'm scheduled for another donation tonight & I need to know if anyone can give me some input as to whether I'm okay to give blood or not. If anyone was diagnosed about that time & knows what type of insulin they were on or if anyone has had problems with donating blood I'd love to hear it. Thanks everyone !!!

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Comment by Tim on January 26, 2012 at 8:31am

In 1980 synthetic human insulin was being made in very small quantities but it's very unlikely you used it unless you were allergic to the beef/pork kinds.

The stuff you were using in the 1980's was almost certainly "Iletin I" which is beef/pork. If you were allergic to beef insulin it might have been "Iletin II" which was pork only.

Human insulin didn't really take off until the late 80's and it wasn't until the 90's that most had moved to it. (It was a lot more expensive!)

Comment by KimK on January 26, 2012 at 8:57am

I have been told by the Red Cross that I am permanently prohibited from giving blood because I used beef or pork insulin in the 80's. I am surprised that they will take your donations.

Comment by Johanna Burton on January 26, 2012 at 9:00am

I am a Type 2 diabetic but I have taken insulin at times during my "career". As you can see from my icon I am pro blood donation and donate every chance I get. My organization only asks about beef insulin and they have never turned me down even though I don't know what kind of insulin I was given.

Comment by kiddo8888 on January 26, 2012 at 9:18am

KimK, the last time that I donated blood was 2 years ago and either that question wasn't on the prohibited medication list or I didn't read it very thoroughly. When I went to donate last November I saw that beef/pork insulin was banned and the girl didn't want to blacklist me so she marked me as can't donate/feeling ill so I could research it more.

I already cancelled my appointment because I feel that if the drug is banned and that I most likely took it, I won't donate my blood.

Comment by Niko on January 26, 2012 at 12:11pm
Every time I've tried to donate blood I've been politely turned down just because I was on insulin, regardless of the type. The didn't even want to discuss it, which is their loss I suppose as I would donate on a regular basis. I finally got tired of trying to change minds. So, before you go you might want to bring your research with you. Does donating plasma have the same restriction?
Comment by Gina on January 26, 2012 at 3:49pm

Hmmmm. I recall being told when I was younger I simply couldn't donate b/c of insulin. I haven't tried again lately due to that, but have been told by a CDE or nurse (can't remember) "why wouldn't you be able to donate?" This makes me curious. I certainly took purified pork insulin back in the day...

Comment by Christina Conaty on January 26, 2012 at 6:38pm

When I was originally diagnosed in 1994 I was told I could no longer give blood. The they changed it so that I could. I can't now because of other meds I take. I didn't even realize they had put a ban on pp who used beef or pork. I guess that's relatively new.

I guess something new was found or discovered that makes it a bad idea. I wouldn't worry about it. You wanting to donate to do a good deed. If our blood doesn't help there are certainly things that you could do that would be helpful.

I went on the Red Cross website and they suggest:

Eligibility criteria, such as certain medical conditions, may prevent you from being able to donate blood in general.

Spread the word that the need for blood is constant.
In the meantime, you can still support the blood donation cause:

Send an eCard inviting friends and family to donate

Join us on Facebook, inviting friends to donate or support the cause.

Help host a blood drive.

Volunteer your time at a blood drive.

Make a financial donation to support the mission of the American Red Cross.

Comment by KimK on January 27, 2012 at 9:21am

The reason they don't want us to donate is the fear of "Mad Cow" disease. The Red Cross is afraid that we might spread something that might be in the insulin before we were concerned about "Mad Cow".


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