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Red Cross expands blood donation eligibility

In a press release put out by The American Red Cross, those who spent time in the U.K., Ireland or France have now been invited to donate blood.

HARRISBURG, Pa. — Those interested in donating blood with the Red Cross may meet new eligibility requirements that once excluded them. 

In a press release put out by The American Red Cross, those who spent time in the U.K., Ireland or France have now been invited to donate blood. 

Previously, these people may have never tried to give blood due to concerns over variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (vCJD) related to mad cow disease. 

This announcement comes as a result of recent eligibility guideline updates from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. This eliminates the deferral for those who spent time in the U.K., Ireland and France between 1980 and 2001. 

“For many years, the Red Cross has heard from people who have spent time in these countries, often members of the military and their families, hoping for the opportunity to donate blood or platelets,” said Jorge Martinez, Interim CEO of American Red Cross Greater Pennsylvania Region. 

“We now welcome all donors who may have spent time in Europe and avoided blood donation as a result to join us in our lifesaving mission to help patients in need," Martinez continued. 

In alignment with FDA changes, the Red Cross began accepting donations on Oct. 3 from those who have not tried giving blood before due to the prior donation criteria. 

In combination with prior eligibility updates in 2020 for those who spent time in other European countries, this new chance effectively eliminates the deferral related to vCJD for all donors, according to the Red Cross. 

Those who have tried to donate with the Red Cross and were deferred from donating will now be contacted by the Red Cross once system records are updated. 

Individuals who have questions about their donor records can contact the Red Cross Donor and Client Support Center at 1-866-236-3276. 

More blood donors, especially type O donors, have been encouraged to donate now to prevent disruptions to essential medical care this fall. As a thank-you, all who come to give Oct. 16-31, 2022 will receive a $10 e-Gift Card by email to a merchant of choice. 

For those interested in donating, users can book a time with the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visit RedCrossBlood.org, or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767). 

All blood types are needed to ensure a reliable supply for patients. A blood donor card or driver’s license or two other forms of identification are required at check-in. 

Individuals who are 17 years of age in most states (16 with parental consent where allowed by state law), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood. 

High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also have to meet certain height and weight requirements.

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