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tumors and being an organ donor tumors and being an organ donor

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Unread 08-03-2004, 06:53 AM
tumors and being an organ donor


I usually post on the post-hysterectomy site, but I have a concern about being an organ donor. I was diagnosed with stage 2, pre-cancerous tumors back in June. Everything was removed surgery, and I've been assured that I won't have to go through chemo or radiation. However, one thing I forgot to check with my doctor on is whether or not the appearance of the tumors means I can no longer be an organ/blood donor. (Acutally, the thought of giving blood voluntarily leaves me squemish, so I have never attempted it anyway.) Does anyone know the answer to this? I don't see him again until the end of September, and I'm afraid I'll forget to ask him about it then. Being in his exam room and knowing the awful things he's about to do to me is enough to knock any question out of my head.
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Unread 08-03-2004, 07:21 AM
tumors and being an organ donor

It's my understanding that if you have cancer, you cannot be an organ or blood donor. Anything precancerous should not be an issue (and that's because there was no invasion so there can't be any spread). It's a great question to ask your doc, though, just to be sure.

Unread 08-03-2004, 07:25 AM
tumors and being an organ donor

I don't know the answer to the organ donor part of your question. However, I do know about blood donations, as I will be donating blood on Monday. If you have been treated for cancer and only had surgery and/or radiation (no chemo, immunotherapy, or hormonal therapy) you can donate after five years without a recurrence. Those who've had chemo, immunotherapy or hormonal therapy have a lifetime prohibition on donation, as do those who've been treated for leukemia or lymphoma.

Five years ago today, I finished my radiation treatments for endometrial cancer, so I know that as of today, I am once again eligible to donate blood.

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Unread 08-03-2004, 08:08 AM
tumors and being an organ donor

I had checked with American Red Cross shortly after my hyst, chemo and radiation, as to why I was turned down for a blood donation. MoeKay you are right that you can donate after 5 years after radiation. But the reason you can not donate after chemo is because it lowers your ability to reproduce cells after donating. Most chemo is systemic (meaning body wide) and it causes bone marrow suppression (where white and red blood cells are produced). Although you may feel well enough to donate, they do not want you to donate for YOUR own health reasons.

As far as organ donation this is what I had found it is from the The Organ Procurement and Transplatation Network
Are there age limits or diseases that rule out organ donation?

For any death where organ donation is a possibility and consent is given, there will be a medical assessment of what organs can be recovered. There are no absolute age limits to organ donation. A handful of medical conditions will rule out organ donation, such as HIV-positive status, actively spreading cancer (except for primary brain tumors that have not spread beyond the brain stem), or certain severe, current infections. However, for most other diseases or chronic medical conditions, organ donation remains possible.

Unfortunately, many people never indicate their wish to donate because they believe, falsely, that their age or medical condition would not allow them to donate. If you want to save and enhance lives through donation, the most important action you can take is to share your donation decision; if donation is not medically feasible, that determination will be made at the time of death.
If you want to be an organ donor PLEASE sign your donor card and let your family know your wishes. At the time of your death they will do an assement as to what organs can be donated. I have already signed mine. I figure that if they can use anything they are more than welcome to it and it will help anywhere from 1 to 1000 people.

Thank you and God Bless
Unread 08-03-2004, 08:50 AM

Premarin is hormone therapy, yes? I took Premarin for 12.5 years and was not prohibited from donating blood. I gave it a number of times during those years.

Now that I'm on Tamoxifen, I cannot donate my much-desired and needed O neg blood. When I have asked Life Source, a blood collecting agency in the Chicago area, about when I can donate again, I get different answers. I've been told during the five years I am taking Tamoxifen, which doesn't surprise me. But I've also been told for those five years and for five years after taking it. Hmmmmmm. I think I'll call again and see if I get a third answer.

Mary D.
Unread 08-03-2004, 05:25 PM
tumors and being an organ donor


Congratulations on that 5 year anniversary!

And, I so admire you going now to donate blood. Having had two transfusions in my cancer journey, I am in debt to those donors of mine. It is a gift of life.

It is a question that I have thought of recently, but now know the answer - I have gone through that chemo! - and in my case, I only donated twice before I ever got sick, and I wish that I had been a regular donor now.
Unread 08-05-2004, 03:17 AM
tumors and being an organ donor


Here are the blood donation eligibility requirements from the American Red Cross:


I know that when I tried to find out my eligibility status several years ago and made several calls locally, they were unable to give me a definitive answer.

As you'll see from the requirments, HRT does not preclude donation. Also, many chemotherapy drugs used for purposes other than cancer do not permanently preclude donation. I did not see Tamoxifen listed. This is an interesting question since, as you know, there are women at high risk for breast cancer who take Tamoxifen in addition to those with a history of breast cancer. It appears that the lifetime preclusion on donation is triggered by the combination of the cancer diagnosis with the hormone treatment rather than just the hormone treatment itself.

You might consider writing to the American Red Cross and asking them for a definitive statement on your situation, and suggest that they modify their eligibility guidelines to reflect whatever response they give you.

Wild rose,

Thanks for your well wishes. I used to be a big blood donor many years before my cancer diagnosis, but had kind of slacked off in the years before my diagnosis. I do know that there were two units of blood reserved for me at the time of my cancer surgery. Fortunately, I didn't need them, but I feel an obligation to do my part to make sure that other women who are in the situation I was in five years ago also have their blood ready and waiting for them. I read an editorial in the paper the other day that said only approximately 5% of eligible donors actually donate blood, and that reserves are critically low at present. So I hope that I don't get turned away on Monday!

I also see that you are from Canada. You might want to double check to make sure that the Canadian eligibility requirements are the same as ours here in the States.

Best regards,


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