The Blood Connection (TBC) is pleased to announce changes to FDA restrictions which will expand the pool of eligible donors significantly during a critical need for blood donations.
More than 20 years ago, the FDA implemented regulations to protect the blood supply against the theoretical risk of mad cow disease, variant Creutzfeldt-Jacob Disease (vCJD), a fatal infection of the brain and nerve tissue. This deferral applied to donors who lived or traveled to the United Kingdom (U.K) and parts of Europe for extended periods of time. There has been no documented case of transmission of vCJD through blood transfusions, so after years of analysis, the FDA is lifting the deferral. TBC estimates thousands of people in the Carolinas and Georgia are now eligible to donate blood.
TBC has advocated for years that this FDA regulation, among others, be modified. The announcement means that donors who were once deferred for the below criteria are now eligible to donate:
- They spent 3 months cumulative time in the U.K. (i.e. England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales, the Isle of Man, the Channel Islands, Gibraltar, or the Falkland Islands) including medical service, between 1980 and 1996.
- They spent 5 years cumulative time in France or Ireland from 1980 to 2001 (this assessment did not include time spent in the U.K., which is evaluated separately.)
- They had a history of ever receiving a blood transfusion in the U.K. (i.e. England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales, the Isle of Man, the Channel Islands, Gibraltar, or the Falkland Islands), France, or Isreland from 1980 to the present.
This change comes at a critical juncture for the local and national blood supply as more patients need blood transfusions and less people are donating. Back in 2020, the FDA lifted restrictions for many military personnel, prohibited because of their deployment serving abroad. This change foreshadowed the one being implemented now.
“We are thrilled to welcome this pool of donors into The Blood Connection donor family!” said Delisa English, President and CEO of The Blood Connection. “As we experience a critical need for all blood types, we are thankful that the FDA chose to expand the pool of eligible donors, a change we have been waiting years for. Our hope is this announcement brings us one step closer to having a stable blood supply again.”
If a donor previously attempted to donate with TBC and was deferred because of the above-mentioned criteria, they must go through a Donor Reinstatement Process. TBC has team members ready to help donors with that process. Potential donors can go to thebloodconnection.org/icandonate to submit their information online. If they have any issues, donors are encouraged to call 864-751-1154 to begin the reinstatement process. It is important to note – donors will not be able to donate before TBC re-enters them in the database.
If a donor who meets these criteria never attempted to donate with TBC, they can make an appointment to donate immediately. TBC relies on local blood donors to collect 800 donations per day, to serve more than 100 hospitals across the region. TBC stands ready to welcome these donors at one of its convenient donor centers or local blood drives. To find a convenient blood donation opportunity, please go to thebloodconnection.org/donate.