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Author Topic: Can we donate blood and organs after cancer?  (Read 3691 times)
okarol
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« on: July 26, 2009, 10:14:21 PM »

Cancer Connections: Can we donate blood and organs after cancer?
By Bob Riter

In my last column, I wrote about fumbling for words when the Red Cross called and asked if I would donate blood. I had just been diagnosed with cancer and found it hard to say, "I have cancer."

After the column appeared, a reader stopped me and asked, "Well, can you give blood after having cancer?"

Good question. I promised her that I would find out.

In a similar vein (so to speak), I'm always stumped when asked if I'm an organ donor.

If I check the box, "Yes, I am an organ donor," I worry that whoever gets my kidney will get my breast cancer, too.

If I check "No, I am not an organ donor," I feel like I have to justify it by writing, "I'd like to donate, but I've had cancer and they probably wouldn't want my organs anyway." (It's hard to fit all of that on the back of my driver's license).

It turns out that most people who've had cancer can donate both blood and organs.

According to the American Red Cross, a person can give blood if he or she is cancer-free and at least one year has elapsed since the completion of treatment. The waiting time was recently reduced from five years to one year.

Taking tamoxifen (commonly prescribed to prevent a recurrence of breast cancer) and many other drugs does not disqualify a person from giving blood.

The only cancers that prevent a person from donating blood on a permanent basis are leukemia and lymphoma.

An interesting article appeared in the medical journal Lancet in May 2007. The researchers identified individuals who had received blood transfusions from people who were later diagnosed with cancer. These donors likely had early cancers that weren't yet detected. The study looked at the recipients of these blood donations and found that they had no greater risk of developing cancer than did the general public.

The bottom line is that I can give blood. I'm still a bit needle-shy from my months of chemo, but it's good to know that my blood is welcomed.

I was also happy to learn that I'm eligible to be an organ donor.

I called the United Network for Organ Sharing, the national organization that coordinates organ donations, and learned that they encourage everyone, even sick people, to check that they are organ donors. Upon death, they'll do a variety of tests to be sure the organs are usable. Cancer does not necessarily prevent a person's organs from being used to help someone else. It's the transplant team's job to sort out what they can use and what they can't.

That was a relief. I like checking the box "I am an organ donor."

http://www.stargazette.com/article/20090725/LIFE/907250314/1115/Cancer+Connections++Can+we+donate+blood+and+organs+after+cancer
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Admin for IHateDialysis 2008 - 2014, retired.
Jenna is our daughter, bad bladder damaged her kidneys.
Was on in-center hemodialysis 2003-2007.
Now needs a new kidney, 7 yr transplant lost due to rejection.
She started PD Sept. 2013
Searching for a living donor using social media, friends, family.
Her story ---> https://www.facebook.com/WantedKidneyDonor
Jenna is an artist, she loves music, is a fan of ComicCon, and has been writing stories since she was little.
Please watch her video: http://youtu.be/D9ZuVJ_s80Y
Living Donors Rock! http://www.livingdonorsonline.org -
News video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J-7KvgQDWpU
Jean
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« Reply #1 on: July 26, 2009, 11:52:03 PM »

I have often wondered about that. Can we also donate our organs if we die of kidney failure, or are they just too messed up. I have donor checked on my license.
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okarol
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« Reply #2 on: July 27, 2009, 01:37:50 AM »


Yes, you can. It's up to the transplant team to decide what they can or cannot use.
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Admin for IHateDialysis 2008 - 2014, retired.
Jenna is our daughter, bad bladder damaged her kidneys.
Was on in-center hemodialysis 2003-2007.
Now needs a new kidney, 7 yr transplant lost due to rejection.
She started PD Sept. 2013
Searching for a living donor using social media, friends, family.
Her story ---> https://www.facebook.com/WantedKidneyDonor
Jenna is an artist, she loves music, is a fan of ComicCon, and has been writing stories since she was little.
Please watch her video: http://youtu.be/D9ZuVJ_s80Y
Living Donors Rock! http://www.livingdonorsonline.org -
News video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J-7KvgQDWpU
Jean
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« Reply #3 on: July 27, 2009, 01:47:38 AM »

Good deal, then I will leave it like that. There must be some of my parts that are still useable. Thank You
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cariad
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What's past is prologue

« Reply #4 on: July 27, 2009, 07:34:42 AM »

I have even heard of transplanted organs being reused. I can't remember which one, but I seem to think it was a heart.

I only recently became an official organ donor on my license, as I had always assumed that the powerful drugs I take would disqualify me. My husband and family would have consented to donate anything anyway, and as far as I have ever heard, your survivors have the final word.

My husband cannot donate blood ever because he lived in Britain during the prion disease outbreak (mad cow, or new-variant CJD). I have never successfully donated blood either. Sometimes I did not meet the weight criteria, other times they balked at my health history. Once I was told no because I had been to Africa within the past year. It seems easier to donate an organ....
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People have hope in me. - John Bul Dau, Sudanese Lost Boy
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