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From United States:

I have a question I have never seen anyone ask about since I found out I was an adult-onset type 1 at 49 years old. Has anyone considered the possibility of passing on the antibodies that destroy the insulin-producing cells to others through blood transfusions? I was always been an avid blood and platelet donor, but happened to think about this since the last time I gave and have found excuses to not give since then given the possibility of infecting others.

I am the only type 1 in my family and did receive a blood transfusion of two units after the birth of my first child. I have since gone through menopause at an earlier age, a possibility due to the antibodies, my endocrinologist thinks. I fear that my youngest child, born afterward, may develop it. She has already developed illnesses, psoriasis and arthritis, that are not in my family, except maybe osteoarthritis. I have also suffered numerous aches and pains, but have never been formally diagnosed. I just wonder if this possibility has ever been considered? It would certainly put my mind at ease about giving blood again.


This is not a likely scenario. To date, it has not been established that type 1 diabetes is specifically caused by a virus that can be transmitted. The antibodies that might have been present in transfused blood would be in small quantities as whole blood contains very little serum. Finally, the residence time for any transfused foreign antibody would be very short. Type 1 diabetes has an asymptomatic period of years where antibodies have to be generated in order to destroy the resident beta cells in the islets.


Additional comments from Dr. Stuart Brink:

It is extremely unlikely that donated blood could pass on such problems, but an exact answer is not known. There is no known reason to not allow you to donate your blood to someone else and many people with diabetes do this all the time. The antibodies are actually markers and not causative agents of such autoimmune problems as far as we currently understand. Also, it would be even more extremely rare for a transfusion that you received to cause such problems in you or in your children.


Original posting 13 Jun 2005
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Last Updated: Tuesday April 06, 2010 15:10:02
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