Giving blood is something nearly any adult can do to give back to their community, and that pool of potential donors is about to get a bit bigger. For many years, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) rules placed long deferrals on donations based on a variety of travel, and personal life factors that could put donors at risk for passing along communicable diseases. That’s the reason for the lengthy list of detailed health questions they ask every time you prepare to roll up your sleeve and donate. Recently, the Red Cross announced that several of these regulations have been revised by the FDA to reflect up to date scientific understandings.
A 5-year deferral from donating for those spending time in certain countries in Europe put in place out of concern for the spread Creutzfeld-Jackob also know and "Mad Cow" disease has been discontinued. Those traveling to areas where malaria is common previously were prohibited from donating blood for 12 months but now that deferral has been reduced to 3 months. Likewise, donors previously could not donate blood for 12 months after getting a tattoo--that has now been reduced to 3 months. And male donors with a history of sexual activity with other men were previously deferred for 12 months--now reduced to 3 months. These policy changes go into effect June 8th, and previously deferred donors will be notified over the coming months by the Red Cross that they are now eligible to donate.
In a statement to blood drive volunteer leaders, the Red Cross said that, “these policy changes reflect Red Cross advocacy for more inclusive eligibility guidelines that reflect scientific advancements and global policies.” While these revised FDA rules have been years in the making, this announcement comes at a time when blood donations are badly needed. Due to COVID-19, many blood drives have been canceled in recent months and many donors have stayed away especially older donors who are at higher risk for severe illness.
The Red Cross is holding a blood drive Tuesday, June 9th at the Knights Hall in Portland. Due to new regulations in response to COVID-19, all donations are by appointment only. Walk-in donors are not being accepted at this time. To schedule an appointment to donate you can visit redcrossblood.org or call 1-800-RED-CROSS.
A representative of the Red Cross further shared with the Beacon that in addition to this change, all donors will be temperature checked before entering the drive and will be turned away if they have a temperature. All donors will also be required to wear a mask to enter the drive. If you don’t have one, one will be provided, but wearing one is mandatory for all blood donors and you will be turned away if you refuse for any reason.