Any history of hepatitis C makes blood donation a no-go
DEAR DR. ROACH: I am a 70-year-old with O-negative blood type. When I was 40, the Red Cross notified me that antibodies of hepatitis C had been detected in my blood and they would no longer accept blood donations from me.
Following this discovery, I was lucky to enroll in a two-year study at my local Veterans Affairs hospital that tracked my antibody "copies." My test results always showed "no detection." The study ended with a liver biopsy, which detected only inflammation of my portal vein with no evidence of cirrhosis. I was told then that 7% to 15% of individuals who contract hepatitis C spontaneously get cured of the virus. I have always remained asymptomatic. With all the latest advances in medicine to combat and treat hepatitis C, do you think the Red Cross would again accept donations of my "universal donor" blood? -- B.P.
ANSWER: No, you can never give blood again if you tested positive for hepatitis C. Even people who have undergone successful treatment for hepatitis C cannot donate blood afterward. The blood banks are very cautious to keep the blood supply as safe as possible.
The first screening test for hepatitis C became available in 1992, which corresponds exactly to when you were told you could not donate.
You can, however, still be an organ donor (the organs are donated to a person living with hepatitis C). People of any age may be organ donors.
DEAR DR. ROACH: In December I had a bicycle accident. When they did a CT scan of my ribs, they discovered a large amount of urine that had overflowed my bladder. They removed over 7 pints with a catheter. It destroyed half my kidney function. I had taken Flomax for years and thought I was urinating sufficiently. One question I have is why none of my doctors had mentioned this possibility. I have since learned of two other friends who had the same issue. Another question is: Now that I had prostate reduction surgery, how do I know I'm urinating enough now? It has been 45 days since the surgery. I do urinate, but I usually have to really push to make it work. -- D.R.
ANSWER: Obstruction of the urine flow is a well-known cause for kidney failure, but it is quite unusual to happen as it did in you.
There doesn't need to be a complete blockage of urine to damage the kidneys: It's the high pressure that damages the kidneys, and if it goes on long enough, the damage -- which can be complete or partial -- is permanent.
Blockages can happen within the kidney, in the tube between the kidney and the bladder (ureter), in the bladder itself or in the tube that drains the bladder (urethra). Stones and tumors are frequent causes. Damage to the nerves to the bladder is another cause of urine obstruction that can cause kidney damage.
In men, the urethra goes right through the prostate. Enlargement of the prostate frequently causes partial obstruction of the urethra, and having to push to begin urinating is a common symptom of prostate enlargement in men. Medications like Flomax shrink the prostate and normally help relieve the pressure, but no medication is perfect. Surgery is still sometimes necessary. It is disturbing to hear you are having this symptom after surgery.
A periodic check of kidney function through blood testing is important, but I would recommend that your urologist look at whether you are completely emptying the bladder. A handheld sonogram done after you urinate can tell this instantly. See your surgeon promptly.
Dr. Roach regrets that he is unable to answer individual letters, but will incorporate them in the column whenever possible. Readers may email questions to ToYourGoodHealth@med.cornell.edu or send mail to 628 Virginia Dr., Orlando, FL 32803.
(c) 2022 North America Syndicate Inc.
All Rights Reserved