Can a person with one kidney donate blood? Here’s what doctors have to say


Blood donation takes place in three steps: donor registration, medical examination and screening and blood collection/phlebotomy and while the entire process takes approximately an hour, the actual procedure of donating blood takes less than 10 minutes. Maintaining adequate supplies of blood is a constant challenge due to its short shelf life as a specific type of blood is required by many patients but at times, blood centres may have sufficient supplies of one blood type while experiencing a critical shortage of a different type.

Hence, blood donation is a noble act which can save many lives and any healthy person can donate blood – men can donate safely once in every three months while women can donate every four months between the age of 18-65 years. Medications do not necessarily disqualify you as a blood donor but the reason for which you are prescribed medication could disqualify you.

Talking about whether a person with one kidney can donate blood, Dr Rashna Pochara, Blood Transfusion Officer at Masina Hospital Blood Centre, shared in an interview with HT Lifestyle, “Though a person with one normal functioning healthy kidney may not have any medical problems, the person’s kidney is still carrying out the function of two kidneys which are required for filtration in a normal healthy adult. This might lead to strain on the kidney in the future. To avoid any further strain on the kidneys, it is better to avoid blood donations for people having only one kidney.”

We all have two kidneys but there are few people in the population who have a single kidney. Dr Shruti Tapiawala, Consultant Nephrologist and Renal Transplant Physician at Mumbai’s Global Hospital, listed the conditions where one can have a single kidney:

1. People who have a single kidney by birth,

2. People who have donated one kidney to their relatives who have kidney problem or have had one kidney removed due to some medical reasons.

3. Have had kidney transplant and have a single functioning kidney

 She highlighted, “If one kidney is removed for donation or disease, the function of the remnant kidney increases by 20-30% due to a process known as “compensatory hypertrophy”. By and large a person with one kidney can live normally if the kidney function is normal, which also means that he or she can perform and participate in all activities like an individual with two normal kidneys. Any person in good health even with single kidney can donate blood.”

However, she pointed out that one cannot donate blood in the following conditions temporarily:

1. Pregnancy

2. Acute fever

3. Recent alcohol intake

4. Recent body piercing or tattooing

Following are a few conditions where blood cannot be donated anytime:

1. Cancer

2. Severe lung disease

3. Viral infections like HIV, HBsAg and Anti HCV or other transmissible infections

4. Chronic alcoholism

Dr Shruti Tapiawala asserted, “Everyone should be encouraged to donate blood as even modern science cannot manufacture blood and it is a lifesaving liquid tissue, which can be donated safely without any harm to the donor. Both men and women can donate blood safely at 3-4 month interval if healthy and not having the above conditions.”



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