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Old 05-08-2007, 10:21 PM
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Question about blood donation and Hepatitis A

I know there's been a couple of recent blood donation threads, including one on ethics and a question about why donors are not paid. I have another strictly factual question about blood donation that I've always wondered about.

I contracted Hepatitis A over twenty years ago in college. (Some dipshit restaurant worker didn't wash his hands, and started his own little epidemic.) It put me in the hospital for three days.

Anyway, according to the CDC guidelines, I am forever barred from donating blood. Why is this the case?

Is it because the people who write the guidelines are not sure if I actually may have had Hepatitis B or C, or does a past history of Hepatitis A also pose its own risk to a person who might receive my donated blood? (Which is a non-issue, since I have obeyed the guidelines.)

For an added twist, over ten years ago a military dental clinic insisted on testing my blood for hepatitis antibodies to confirm that I only had contracted Hepatitis A. They found no detectable antibodies whatsoever in my blood. Does this make any sense? Have I gotten "over" the hepatitis? Could I therefore contract it again if I were exposed to it again?
#2
Old 05-08-2007, 11:19 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by robby
Anyway, according to the CDC guidelines, I am forever barred from donating blood. Why is this the case?

Is it because the people who write the guidelines are not sure if I actually may have had Hepatitis B or C, or does a past history of Hepatitis A also pose its own risk to a person who might receive my donated blood? (Which is a non-issue, since I have obeyed the guidelines.)
I think you hit it right on the head. In the absence of unequivocal proof that what you had back then was Hep A, there's a chance it was actually Hep B or Hep C. And, as you are very well aware, even the most remote chance of Hep B or C makes a person ineligible to be a donor.

In terms of any residual effect of Hep A, and in particular whether a donor's previous episode of that infection poses a risk to the recipient, the answer is that there are no long term effects. If you contract that disease, you either get well and cured spontaneously or, if you're really, really unlucky, you die (or get a transplant). In any case, you can't carry the Hep A virus occultly as might be the case with Hep B and Hep C (and hence the risk in a person who once had either Hep B or Hep C in donating blood. He/she may still be carrying the virus, albeit in a totally asymptomatic state).

If you truly once did have Hep A, I am surprised that your Hep A antibodies were negative (if, in fact, they were actually tested for). It's likely that they only did the test that reveals recent (or ongoing) Hep A infection as opposed to that which would have confirmed a more remote infection with it. If these things interest you, I'll point out that the test for acute or recent Hep A infection is based on detecting the presence of IGM antibodies against Hep A. IGM antibodies are formed early in the body's immune response to infection and they gradually disappear and are replaced by IGG antibodies. IGG antibodies are life-long and their presence not only testifies that there was a previous infection, they suggest, as well, that the immune system is primed and ready to go against another Hep A infection. IGM antibodies on the other hand do not constitute part of this "immunolgic memory".

By the way IGG antibodies cross the placenta (IGM don't). This is how mom protects the fetus from many infections. As mom's IGG antibodies degrade and disappear from the child's blood in the post-partum period (and are gone completely by 18 months), it's up to the baby to start taking care of himself. Have you noticed that colds and the like are quite unusual during the first year of life? and then come with a vengeance thereafter?

Last edited by KarlGauss; 05-08-2007 at 11:24 PM.
#3
Old 06-14-2016, 07:48 PM
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Join Date: Dec 2000
Location: Connecticut, USA
Posts: 5,148
KarlGauss, I was recently referred back to your answer here in this thread by Qadgop the Mercotan. I have no idea why I never replied back to thank you for your extremely thorough answer.

Not to mention the fact that until I was reminded by Qadgop, I completely forgot that I started a thread on this topic, along with the fact that you directly addressed my question, so I turned around and asked the same question again today.

Anyway, thanks very much for taking the time to answer my question. Sorry for taking nine years to thank you.
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