Adverse reactions in blood donors with a history of seizures or epilepsy

A. Krumholz, P. M. Ness, W. A. Hauser, D. K. Douglas, J. W. Gibble

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Background: Individuals with epilepsy or seizure disorders are restricted from donating blood because of concern that they are prone to adverse donor reactions such as syncope and convulsions. A study evaluating whether that concern is warranted is reported. Study Design and Methods: During a 2-year period beginning in 1987, blood donors in Maryland with a history of seizures were actively recruited by the American Red Cross. Adverse donor reactions were classified as 'slight,' indicating dizziness and nausea without loss of consciousness; 'moderate,' denoting syncope; and 'severe,' indicating convulsive syncope. Results: There were 329,143 satisfactory blood donations; 613 individuals reporting a history of seizures donated blood a total of 723 times. Among donors with seizures, 186 (35.7%) were taking antiepileptic medication, and 61 (8.4%) had had one or more seizures in the preceding year. Individuals with seizures had a low incidence of adverse reactions (3.34%). Although this incidence was slightly higher than that in the entire population (2.24%), the difference was not significant. In particular, the risk of syncope with or without convulsive activity was low for people with seizures (0.21%) and not significantly greater than that in other donors (0.28%). Conclusion: Individuals with seizures or epilepsy are not at greater risk for adverse reactions after blood donation, and major restrictions on their participation as blood donors are not warranted.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)470-474
Number of pages5
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1995
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology
  • Hematology


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