Q. I was told that since I am a Gulf War veteran that I cannot donate blood. Is this true?
A. In the period immediately after the Gulf War, blood donations were not accepted from Gulf War veterans because of the concern that their blood might contain parasites that cause Leishmaniasis. That exclusion of Gulf War veterans ended by 1994. Since that time, Gulf War veterans have been treated in the same manner as other prospective blood donors.
All potential blood donors are screened through questionnaires and interviews for possible presence of medical conditions or illnesses which could possibly affect the recipients of their blood. Donors whose screening does not disqualify them can then donate blood. Following donation, the blood is then screened with a large number of laboratory tests to look for evidence of a variety of infectious diseases. Only after that laboratory screening is complete is the blood cleared for transfusion into another human being.
If deferred from giving blood, the Red Cross' Research Blood collects blood for research purposes in the Washington, D.C. and Maryland area. For more information, call (888) 817-4483.
For more information about blood donations, visit the Red
Cross Web site.