Ask the Dietitian: Can People with PKU Give Blood?

Yes! According to the World Health Organization (WHO) Blood Donor Selection Guidelines and the American Red Cross (800-Red-Cross) PKU is not an exclusion for blood donation. PKU is an inherited disorder and it cannot be transmitted by a blood transfusion. Recipients of blood from PKU donors will be able to properly process any phenylalanine that may be present. Even if you are on Kuvan, you can still donate since this medication is not a safety risk. There is a continuous need for safe blood donations to help save lives.

The same guidelines for people without PKU apply to those with PKU: you should be in good health and feeling well at the time of donation. The Red Cross has guidelines for age, weight, and how often you can donate. For those who have PKU, being in good health would mean you are on diet and your phenylalanine levels are well controlled. Anyone who has anemia cannot donate. It is always a good idea to check with your clinic to make sure you are a good candidate to donate blood.

The American Red Cross recommends that donors eat a healthy meal, hydrate, and be well rested before donating. Before you donate, have a low phe iron-rich diet, take your formula, and drink water. If you are eating plant-based iron-rich foods pair that with Vitamin C-rich foods like strawberries, oranges, green peppers, or tomatoes to maximize iron absorption. On the day of your donation eat well and hydrate, and don’t forget to bring low phe snacks and water to recharge after your donation.

So be a lifesaver, and donate!

ASK THE DIETITIAN is a feature of PKU News. It is not a substitute for medical advice, but a place to ask questions that might be useful to the entire community. Do you have a question? Ask it here.