FDA Revises Stance on Blood Donation Eligibility Related to Service in Europe and Mad Cow Disease

By Jeremy Coumbes on August 3, 2022 at 2:26pm

The area’s blood supply could get a bump in donations after a recent revision by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Impact Life announced today they are expanding the blood center’s donor base by reinstating more than 5000 potential blood donors who have been blocked from donating blood for more than two decades.

Kirby Winn with Impact Life says thanks to an update in donor eligibility guidance by the F.D.A., area blood centers can now draw from a larger pool of potential donors.

“ The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has changed its guidance about donor eligibility for mad cow disease. Now people might hear that and wonder, wait, what is mad cow disease? It really was a serious concern at one point that there was beef in the United Kingdom, France, and Ireland in the 1980s up through 1996. And people who lived in that part of the world for a certain period of time, not just visiting, were ineligible to donate for a period of time, and now they are.”

The revised guidance now allows 5,126 individuals in the immediate Impact Life area to once again give blood. Winn says some of the largest impacted in this group are current and former members of the Armed Forces.

In that region, we know of a little more than five thousand people who’ve been differed from blood donation for this reason, but there are a lot of other folks who kinda knew about it and then never even came to give blood. We call that a self deferral, and so we want to spread the word far and wide, especially since this effect, or did affect, a lot of our military personnel.

Veterans, people who were stationed and maybe lived overseas for a longer period of time were not eligible to give blood because of this theoretical, we’ll say risk of mad cow disease going to the transfusion recipient and the F.D.A. Is telling us that is no longer an issue.”

Concern over Mad Cow Disease came to a head in the mid-1990s and by 1999 the deferral was in place blocking many from donating blood. Winn says the change comes at a time when the need for blood remains critical in the area when the amount of available blood has moved slightly up.

The last time we talked I think was earlier this summer, and it was about as bad as it could get. So we’ve improved to a two to three-day supply for our Type O negative and Type O positive supply. Ideally, we would be at a five-day supply, so we are still below but we are better than we were.

We are contacting now these folks that we know we can reach about their change in status with their eligibility and we hope that many of them will take the opportunity to schedule appointments and become donors again.”

Winn says anyone who has questions on if they are eligible to give blood and if so how to go about it can contact Impact Life at bloodcenter.org, or locally by calling 800-747-5401.

Winn also is reminding the public that donor promotions that include e-gift cards worth anywhere from $10 to $25 are being provided through September 11th. More details can be found at bloodcenter.org.