Changes to Donor Eligibility Requirements Allow More People to Give Blood

Arkansas Blood Institute is Calling on Donors of All Blood Types to Give

February 19 (LITTLE ROCK) – As winter weather and resulting blood drive cancelations severely impact the supply of life-saving blood, Arkansas Blood Institute is alerting potential donors that new eligibility rules allow more people to give the gift of life. Many veterans, healthcare workers and other civic minded individuals who were disqualified in the past are now cleared to donate again. 

    Due to the nationwide blood shortage in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the US Food & Drug Administration (FDA) recently revised a number of eligibility requirements for volunteer blood donors:
  • Those who spent extended time in many European countries are now no longer deferred due to Mad Cow Disease risks. This change will likely allow many veterans and military personnel to donate blood.
    Individuals in the following groups will remain deferred because of European residency:
  • Those who spent three months or more in the United Kingdom from 1980-1996
  • Those who spent five years or more in France or Ireland from 1980-2001
    The following now only have a three-month deferral period (these were previously 12- month deferrals):
  • Tattoos, ear piercings, and body piercings from unlicensed or unlisted facilities
  • Blood transfusions
  • Accidental needle stick or splash for health care workers
  • Travel to malarial-endemic areas

Additionally, many donors are unsure if they can donate with some common health conditions. Diabetes, high blood pressure or thyroid disease are often not obstacles to giving blood. Donors who have received the COVID-19 vaccine (Moderna or Pfizer) face no waiting time before giving blood or platelets.

Arkansas Blood Institute has set up a hotline for donors who are unsure of their eligibility. Donors are asked to call 405-419-1538 with questions about their eligibility. Answers to frequently asked questions are listed at arkbi.org/blood-donation/can-i-donate

“We’re excited to see the FDA use the latest scientific data to adjust deferral criteria, allowing us to welcome back many donors,” said John Armitage, M.D., president and CEO of Arkansas Blood Institute. “Many donors who have previously been unable to give are now able to support the community blood supply that patients so desperately count on to recover from trauma, fight cancer, undergo surgery or battle life-threatening diseases.”

Arkansas Blood Institute is urging healthy adults age 16 or older of all blood types to give as soon as possible if they can safely visit a convenient donor center or mobile blood drive. Appointments to donate blood can be made at a donor center near you, finding a nearby blood drive, or by calling 877-340-8777. Walk-ins are welcome.

Bob Grant