By Tho D. Pham, MD, Chief Medical Officer
For many years SBC has provided donors with a total cholesterol reading as a courtesy part of each blood donation, which has been routinely recorded on the online donor portal (sbcdonor.org). Back when this testing was implemented and for many years thereafter, the total cholesterol blood test was seen as a valid cholesterol measurement tool and, as such, we have been happy to provide the added service as a thank-you to our donors.
However, over time, as new technology and information have become available, the standards for cholesterol testing have changed: This form of cholesterol testing, while an accurate report on a person’s total cholesterol at the time of donation, is no longer thought to be a reliable gauge of a person’s overall cholesterol levels and health. The most appropriate cholesterol test currently is one that measures the different fractions (HDL, LDL and triglycerides) and which should be measured after the individual has been fasting. Since fasting is not recommended at the time of donation for safety reasons, SBC is not able to offer this type of fasting cholesterol test.
Furthermore, during this period, we are focusing as many of our resources as possible on continuing to ensure a safe and ready blood supply during the COVID-19 pandemic. As hospitals begin to resume elective surgeries and other procedures, we will need all our available time, technology and team members dedicated to maintaining a steady blood supply for patients.
For these reasons, we have decided that, on May 15, we will be obsoleting our cholesterol testing. While we realize that many donors do like this test, we are wary of anyone becoming reliant on it as a true measure of cholesterol and, in doing so, failing to take the proper measures necessary to ensure their health and wellness.
After May 15, donors can continue to see reports on their pulse, blood pressure, temperature and hemoglobin on the online portal as well as historical cholesterol data. While new cholesterol tests will no longer be recorded after this time, we have not ruled out implementing a different courtesy health screening test for our donors in the future.
We are sorry for any inconvenience this may cause and hope that you will continue to go to your physician for regular health screenings.
To read the full spring 2020 edition of PULSE, visit stanfordbloodcenter.org/pulse.