Many felons may have donated blood before their felony conviction. So, how about now that their sentence is complete? Can they donate blood once again?
This blog post will address the question of whether or not a felon can be a blood donor.
- Blood and Blood Donations
- Who Can Donate Blood?
- Blood Donation Restrictions
- Losing and Regaining Rights and Privileges
- Doing the Right Thing
Blood and Blood Donations
Blood is a living tissue with a number of critical functions. It delivers oxygen and nutrients to our organs, finds infections, and creates blood clots, preventing us from excessive bleeding.
Whole blood is the blood that flows through your veins and contains red cells, white cells, and platelets, suspended in plasma. Whole blood is the most common type of donation. It can be transfused to help people when it is separated into its specific components.
Plasma is important for maintaining blood pressure and supplying proteins for blood clotting and maintaining PH balance your body. Plasma carries the solid part of our blood:
- White blood cells
- Red blood cells
Who Can Donate Blood?
Blood donors help patients with a variety of issues:
- Accidents and burns
- Heart surgery and organ transplants
While donating blood is essential for many health-related reasons and conditions such as these, the opportunity to donate blood is a privilege and not a right. Donor eligibility is established by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and state regulatory agencies.
Donor eligibility rules protects the health and safety of the donor and the person receiving a blood transfusion. Prior to donating, a medical professional will discuss a person’s health history privately.
The blood safety system through the FDA depends on:
- Accurate and complete educational material for donors
- Donor understanding and honesty
- Quality controlled infectious testing procedures
- Appropriate handling and distribution of blood and blood products
A person can donate blood if he or she:
- Is in good health
- Weighs at least 110 pounds
- Is at least 16 years old in most states
Being in good health means feeling well and able to perform normal activities. Chronic conditions such as diabetes must be treated and under control in order to donate blood. Most chronic illnesses are acceptable as long as a person feels well, conditions of control are met, and all other eligibility requirements are met also.
Blood Donation Restrictions
A person’s ability to donate blood depends on two factors:
- That the donation will not injure the donor
- That the donated blood will not be hazardous to the recipient
There are a number of restrictions on who is eligible to donate blood on a given occasion. Among these are:
- Not feeling well the day of donation
- Being on certain medications
- Having low iron count
- Traveling to a malaria-infested country in the past three years
Additionally, there are certain other factors that can restrict or eliminate a person’s eligibility to donate.
Someone who has been incarcerated in a facility, jail or prison, for more than 72 consecutive hours is deferred for 12 months from the date of last occurrence, which obviously includes felons upon release. This includes work release programs and weekend incarceration. This deferment exists because a person who has been incarcerated is at higher risk for exposure to infectious diseases.
Having signs or symptoms of hepatitis (an inflammation of the liver) caused by a virus or other source will cause ineligibility to donate blood. Someone who has tested positive for hepatitis B or hepatitis C at any age is not eligible to donate. The longer a person is in prison, the more likely it is that he or she can be potentially exposed to people and practices with a high likelihood of having HIV infection, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C.
Certain types of sexual contact
Someone who has had sexual contact with a person who has hepatitis must wait at least 12 months after the last contact. Men who have had sex with another man must wait at least one year since the last contact before being eligible to donate blood.
Tattoos are a form of body art created when the ink is inserted into the dermis layer of the skin. Tattoos breach the skin, meaning that skin infection and other complications are possible, including:
- Allergic reactions
- Skin infections
- Other skin problems
- Blood borne diseases
- MRI complications
Someone cannot donate blood within 12 months after a tattoo was applied in a state that does not regulate tattoo facilities. States that do not regulate tattoo facilities are:
- District of Columbia
- New Hampshire
- New York
A tattoo is acceptable if it was applied by a state-regulated tattoo facility using sterile needles and ink that has not been previously used.
A person may not be eligible to donate blood if he or she has ever:
- Used self-injected drugs
- Had hepatitis
- Is in a high-risk group for AIDS
A person who has been in a relationship with an intravenous drug user is ineligible to donate blood.
Losing and Regaining Rights and Privileges
When they were convicted of their felony, certain rights were lost or restricted. They still maintained the right to indictment, a speedy trial, and no self-incrimination. Others, however, were lost. Among these are the right to vote, serve on a jury, hold public office, and own or possess firearms.
There are reasons why felons lose their civil rights. Crimes against individuals are considered to be crimes against society. Laws were implemented to protect society.
Unlike civil rights, felons can lose the privilege to donate blood because of the potential health risks that blood recipients face from felons who have been incarcerated and exposed to serious conditions like hepatitis from unsafe tattoo, sex, or possible IV drug usage.
Regaining that privilege is not the same as typical civil rights either. Consulting an attorney, having a criminal record expunged, or obtaining a pardon will not reverse the unhealthy physical condition. Those effects can only be altered by the passage of time and safe health practices, if at all.
Doing the Right Thing
The opportunity to donate blood does not depend on having a job and is not subject to any background check. A felon who is in the position to be considered for blood donation needs to be honest when the medical professional questions a felon about his or her health and the safety of donating blood.
This is the time for you, as a felon, to do the right thing and take responsibility for any physical conditions that could prevent blood donation.
Remember that you are not defined by your crime. Be willing to see yourself in a different light and ready to establish an honest life. The best opportunity for success in a new life begins with honesty and protection of those with life-compromising or life-threatening conditions.
So what do you think about this blog post about whether or not a felon can be a blood donor? Have you or someone you know been in that situation? What was that like and what happened? Please tell us in the comments below.