Can You Donate Blood If You Have Thalassemia?

Blood donors should have an optimum level of hemoglobin to qualify for blood donation. Patient with some form of thalassemia may donate blood while people suffering from another form cannot donate.

Can You Donate Blood If You Have Thalassemia?

Can You Donate Blood If You Have Thalassemia?

Thalassemia is the condition in which the patient has low levels of hemoglobin. The levels of hemoglobin depend upon the type of thalassemia the person is suffering from. If the person is suffering from thalassemia minor, then the hemoglobin level is not at low level while the patient with thalassemia major, the hemoglobin level is too low, and the person suffers from moderate to severe anemia. There is a specific criterion related to the level of hemoglobin. If the blood donor is a man, then the hemoglobin level should be at least 12.5 gm/dl whereas if the blood donor is male, the level of hemoglobin should be 13 gm/dl. People with too low levels of hemoglobin are generally not permitted to donate blood as there are chances of severe fatigue and dizziness.

The patient may be allowed or disallowed on the basis of level of hemoglobin. In mild form of thalassemia, the hemoglobin levels are at the level of 9-12.5 gm/dl. In patient with moderate severity, the hemoglobin levels are 6-7gm/dl while the severe form of thalassemia characterizes by the hemoglobin levels of 4-5 gm/dl. Thus, the patient with moderate to severe form of thalassemia does not qualify for blood donations further; various other parameters such as hematocrit value should also be taken into consideration while evaluating the person for blood donation.

Thalassemia Types

There are two types of protein used for the production of hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is made up of four alpha and two beta globin protein chains. The genes related to the formation of these chains are situated on the chromosomes. Four genes, two from each of the parent is required to produce the alpha chain while two genes, one from each parent is required to produce beta protein chain. On the basis of number of genes mutated, alpha and beta thalassemia can be divided in the following types:

One Alpha Gene Absent: This is a very mild form of the disease and there is no symptom of anemia in these patients. This condition is known as alpha thalassemia trait or alpha thalassemia minima.

Two Alpha Genes Absent: The patients with two missing genes may show mild form of anemia. This condition is known as alpha thalassemia minor.

Three Alpha Genes Absent: This condition is known as hemoglobin H disease and the patient shows moderate symptoms of anemia.

All Four Alpha Genes Absent: This is the severest form of alpha thalassemia and may lead to fatal consequences.

One Beta Gene Absent: When only the single beta genes get mutated, the condition is known as beta thalassemia minor. This condition is the mild form of the disease and the patient may or may not experience anemia. If anemia exists, it is in very mild form.

All Two Beta Genes Absent: Also known as Colley’s anemia, it is the severest form of beta thalassemia. The patient may experience moderate to sever form of anemia and the treatment is blood transfusion.

Thalassemia Symptoms

Thalassemia is caused by the production of abnormal hemoglobin. Hemoglobin plays an important role in the body by providing oxygen to the tissue. Thus, when this process stops, the energy production in the body significantly reduces leading to the tiredness. Following are the symptoms experienced by the patient suffering from thalassemia:

Fatigue: As the body deprives of oxygen, it may lead to fatigue.

Growth and development: Energy is required for the development of various organs. Thus, there is slow growth.

Iron overload: Due to continuous blood transfusion, iron toxicity may occur.

Bone deformation: Due to abnormality in the bone marrow, the bone starts deforming which sometime require surgery for reshaping the bones.

Death: Death may occur due to iron accumulation in vital organs and also due to infection.


Patients with minor form of thalassemia may donate blood as they have optimum levels of hemoglobin while patient suffering from severe form are not eligible for donating blood.

Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:July 15, 2021

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