Patient Education Blog

Blood or Organ Donation: Being on Blood Thinners or Having a Thrombophilia

 “I am on warfarin (Coumadin®).  Can I donate blood?”  No.  A person on a blood thinner (anticoagulant), like warfarin, will not be accepted as a blood donor because of the risk of bleeding to him/her when the vein in the arm is entered with a big needle or venous catheter during the donation process.  Being on aspirin or any other anti-platelet drug (Plavix®, Aggrenox®), however, is not a problem and patients on these drugs can donate blood.

Blood Clotting Disorder

“Can people with factor V Leiden or another blood clotting disorder (thrombophilia) donate blood?”  Yes, individuals with factor V Leiden or any other thrombophilia can donate blood, platelets, or blood plasma.  There are no problems.  However, if a person with factor V Leiden or another thrombophilia is on warfarin, he/she will not be accepted as a blood donor as discussed above.

Red Cross Guidelines for Donating Blood

The Red Cross eligibility guidelines can be found in detail here.  The essentials of these policies are:

  • Aspirin:  You can donate blood and plasma while on aspirin.  However, for platelet donation (by apheresis): wait 48 hours after taking aspirin or any medication containing aspirin before donating.
  • Plavix® (Clopidogrel): You can donate blood while on Plavix®.  However, for platelet donation (by apheresis): wait 14 days after taking Plavix® before donating.
  • Coumadin® (warfarin), heparin or other prescription blood thinners (such as Lovenox®, Fragmin®, Innohep®, Arixtra®, Pradaxa®, etc.) you should not donate.  If you discontinue your blood thinners, wait 7 days before returning to donate.

Organ Donation

Individuals with clotting disorders (thrombophilias) are not excluded from being organ donors and should, in my opinion, be donors. There are only few absolute exclusions (such as HIV infection or active cancer), but clotting disorders are not exclusion criteria (link here).  There are some special circumstances that warrant discussion between a patient with thrombophilia and his/her health care provider:

  • The donor who has a thrombophilia would pass the thrombophilia on in the case of a liver donation (as the clotting factors are made in the liver).  However, this likely will not be of any relevance, except possibly in the  case of a strong thrombophilia (such as antithrombin deficiency, protein C deficiency, homozygous factor V Leiden, or a combination of having both factor V Leiden and the prothrombin 20210 mutation at the same time). 
  • Organ transplantation from a donor who has a mild clotting disorder (such as heterozygous factor V Leiden or heterozygous prothrombin 20210 mutation) would, in the majority of cases, not cause any negative effects on the recipient.

Last updated:  Oct 12th, 2011

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4 Responses to “Blood or Organ Donation: Being on Blood Thinners or Having a Thrombophilia”

    • Stephan Moll says:

      Pradaxa is a blood thinner (=anticoagulant) in the same group as Coumadin (warfarin), Lovenox, Fragmin, Innohep, Arixtra. Plavix is an anti-platelet drug in the same group as aspirin or aggrenox.

  1. Bonnie Handel says:

    I am on coumadin, for history of DVTs and also I have polycythemia vera. I have therapeutic phlebotomies (equal to donating a unit of blood) fairly frequently. Bleeding has never been a problem. THe blood however is not acceptable for donations per the red cross, which is a shame.