Can You Donate Blood or Plasma if You Have POTS?

Hospitals and medical services around the world frequently put out the call for blood donations. Safe blood plays an essential part in saving lives [1] – it is required by women who experience complications in pregnancy and childbirth, accident victims, surgical patients, and more. 

One of the most frustrating things is receiving an emergency alert asking for blood donations, especially for your blood type, only to be told you can’t donate blood. Wanting to help and being unable to help can prove so vexing that many people with chronic and/or severe illnesses choose to avoid attempting blood donations altogether

If you’re a regular blood (or plasma) donor who has recently been diagnosed with POTS, you may wonder if you can still continue donating blood. There are several questions associated with the idea of donating blood as a POTS patient. 


Can You Donate Blood with POTS?

Yes, in an ideal case, you can donate blood if you have POTS[2]However, this depends on numerous factors. 

In the United States, blood donors first need to have their blood pressure checked. As long as your pressure is between 90 and 180 systolic and 50 and 100 diastolic and you are medically able, you can donate blood. 

However, some POTS patients experience low blood pressure[3] and increased heart rate. Additionally, POTS patients frequently have lower than normal blood volume [4] (also known as hypovolemia). 

These conditions may disqualify you from donating blood and plasma or may cause unique challenges should you try to do so. Because of this, it’s essential to first clear your plans to donate blood with your physician. 

If you are approved to donate blood or plasma, increase your consumption of oral fluids right before and after your donation. Additionally, ask the donation center if you can receive additional saline during the donation process, and make sure you’re sitting in a reclining position throughout the process. For best results, create a plan with your physician that you follow during the blood donation process. 

While you may be medically cleared to donate blood and/or plasma, not all medical centers are willing to allow POTS patients to donate. There are several anecdotes [5] you can read online from the perspective of POTS patients who have been turned away from a blood donation center. To reduce the risk of this happening, reach out to the center/hospital you plan to donate to and ask them about their policy regarding POTS patients.

Keep in mind some people reported having negative reactions to donating blood, including fainting during the process. Furthermore, POTS patients are linked to having low iron levels and mild anemia[6] which may disqualify you from donating blood. 

You may need special allowances when donating blood. If the blood donation center you are visiting is unable to accommodate those needs, rethink your decision or find another center. 


Is POTS Contagious Through Blood Transfusions and Donations?

POTS is not contagious, including through blood donations and transfusions. While it can run in families, this does not mean you can transmit your disease through a blood donation. 

While there are understandable concerns around POTS patients donating blood, these concerns do not stem from a fear of contagion. All blood samples are extensively tested before being used for patients, so if you do have an illness that can be transmitted via blood donation, you don’t have to worry about inadvertently getting someone else sick.


Why Should You Donate Plasma?

These guidelines apply to donating both blood and plasma. We’ve discussed the importance of donating blood – but why should you also donate plasma? 

Donated plasma is as important to the medical community as donated blood is. It is used to help people with clotting factor deficiencies, liver disease, cancer[7]and more. It is also used to help people who have lost a significant amount of their blood volume to restore their regular blood pressure and volume.  

Plasma donation is relatively similar to blood donation, though it takes a few extra minutes. Plasma donations are often made in concert with blood donations. During this process, the blood you donate is sent to the lab, where it is divided into its constituent parts (red blood cells, plasma, platelets) and sent forward to medical centers and hospitals in need.  

However, some centers also offer plasma-only donations. During this process, blood is removed from your arm, and plasma is filtered out on-site. The red blood cells and platelets are then returned to your body. This is similar to a blood donation visit, though it takes slightly longer. 

Plasma-only donations are useful because they allow you to donate far more plasma than you would via a regular donation – up to three times as much.


How to Help if You Cannot Donate Blood

If your doctor recommends against blood donation, you have a negative response to the donation, or you are turned away by the medical center, this does not mean you have no recourse to help.  

While being unable to donate blood yourself, it does not mean that you are unable to help. Some ways you can help without giving blood yourself include[8]:

  • Inform Others: If there’s a blood drive, spread the word via social media and directly through instant messaging. If there is a call out for a specific blood type, share the information with your social groups to increase awareness. 

  • Volunteer: Medical centers often encourage people to sign up as volunteers for high-volume events such as blood drives. Contact your local center, ask if they need help. Volunteering can include everything from ensuring refreshments are available for donors to making calls to prospective donors. 

  • Support Others: If you know someone nervous about donating for the first time, offer to accompany them as emotional support. One reason people may not be able to donate blood is due to other responsibilities, such as childcare – if you know someone in that position and can help, offer to do so. 



There is nothing about POTS that makes it inherently dangerous for you to donate blood or plasma. However, there are a number of factors associated with this condition that may prevent you from donating blood

Before you try donating, get your physician’s approval. Contact the medical center you’ll be visiting and ask about their guidelines regarding POTS patients donating blood and plasma – some centers have stricter guidelines and may turn you away.  

If you are unable to donate blood or plasma, you can still help by supporting people in your life who are donating, spreading awareness about blood and plasma drives in your area, and volunteering at your local medical center or hospital during a blood drive.

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