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  • Kellens A
  • De Buck E
  • Emonds MP
  • Vandekerckhove P
  • Lagae L
Epilepsy Res. 2018 Jan;139:143-149 doi: 10.1016/j.eplepsyres.2017.11.002.

In many countries people with epilepsy are temporarily or permanently excluded from blood donation. This exclusion is based on the assumption that they are more likely to experience adverse donor reactions such as epileptic seizures, and not on scientific evidence. A systematic review was therefore performed to critically examine the evidence with regard to adverse effects of blood donation on epilepsy patients.


Five databases (MEDLINE, Embase, The Cochrane Library, Web of Science and CINAHL) were searched for studies from the date of inception until December 2014. Two of the authors screened the articles and extracted the data independently and used the GRADE approach to assess the quality of evidence.


The literature search yielded 7283 references. Following title and abstract screening in the first phase, and full text screening in the second phase, only three observational studies were finally withheld: one cohort study and two case series. None of the three studies could demonstrate that a blood donation resulted in adverse events in epilepsy patients. However, the studies were of poor methodological quality and lacked a solid statistical analysis.


Limited low quality studies could not demonstrate that blood donors with epilepsy are at an increased risk of adverse events. Further research is necessary to determine whether and how long epilepsy patients have to be excluded from blood donation.