I am writing because I recently learned something that I don't
remember hearing before, or reading anywhere. I am 2
post-surgery and have lost 100 pounds..
I was a blood donor before surgery,
although I had stopped because they had a hard time finding a
vein. About a year ago, I started donating again. I even gave
"double red" cells once, a process that allows them to "harvest"
twice the amount of red blood cells while giving you back your
own plasma plus some saline solution.
This year, when I arrived to donate blood
in April, my iron level was too low to donate either double-reds
or whole blood. I went back in two weeks, and it was just high
enough to donate whole blood, but not high enough to donate
About a week later, I went to my general
physician for my annual check-up for my diabetes and high-blood
pressure. After the exam and lab tests, the lab tech brought the
results of some of the blood tests, and told the nurse that I
was anemic. I told her that I had just given blood the week
before, and then about being turned down at the blood bank in
April because my iron levels were too low. She gave me this
wide-eyed look, and said that I should only be giving blood
twice a year at the most (not 4 times like they say you can)
since my gastric bypass surgery. Because your system cannot
absorb nutrients as before, post-surgery patients have a
tendency to be anemic. The doctor came out about then, and said
that it was not a good idea to donate blood.
By the way, I still take my daily
multi-vitamin that includes 18 mg iron as recommended by my
Maybe I missed the speech from my surgeon
about blood donation, but I have done some research now, and
can't find anything about this issue for post-bariatric surgery
patients. I just wanted to pass this along to save anyone else
from having a problem.
Thanks for all your great information! Keep
those newsletters coming.
I didn’t get a blood donation lecture either, but I was told
that those having gastric bypass surgery are at risk of anemia
following surgery. This is because; one of the places that iron
is absorbed in the body is the first part of the small
intestines which is bypassed in roux en-Y patients. Also the
food that you eat that contains iron comes in contact with far
less gastric acid, so the iron that is converted to the more
absorbable ferric iron is also reduced. Anemia is a very real
problem. Lap band patients don’t have these problems.
I take a prescription iron and my blood
level is at the minimum which is 12.Were I not taking iron
medication, I could give blood. But since I am, the blood bank
will not accept my donation. They explained that to take blood
from me would be undoing what the medication is accomplishing.
When you have your check-up appointments, you always need to
have your iron levels checked (as well as your B-12 levels).
Your regular PCP might not know to look for low iron, so alert
him or her that it might be a problem. Usually adding an iron
supplement or prescription iron will solve the problem.