American Red Cross donation sites relax restrictions on LGBTQ donors, people with new tattoos and piercings

Blood donations will include antibody test

WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - Months after the FDA handed down new rules governing who can donate blood in light of the need stirred by the COVID-19 pandemic, the American Red Cross has formally updated their systems to allow people to donate under the FDA’s relaxed restrictions.

On April 2, the FDA announced the deferment period is now only three months rather than one year for people with tattoos and piercings, males who have had sex with another male, people who have traveled to malaria-endemic areas and people who spent time in certain European countries considered to have been exposed to Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease.

The changes were expected to increase the number of donations moving forward and ensure the country has an adequate blood supply.

“We believe these updated recommendations will have a significant and positive impact on our blood supply,” the release from the FDA said. “The updated recommendations in these guidances are based on data and analysis that the FDA believes are applicable to circumstances outside of (and after) the COVID-19 pandemic and reflect the agency’s current thinking on this issue. These recommendations are expected to remain in place after the COVID-19 pandemic ends, with any appropriate changes based on comments we receive and our experience implementing the guidances.”

The American Red Cross is the largest collector of blood in the US. The group began training their staff on the changes in May, and unrolled updated software programs, screening materials and documents to reflect the changes June 8.

“More than anything, the American Red Cross prides itself on being inclusive and welcoming and inviting to everyone its part of our mission to prevent and alleviate human suffering in the face of emergencies. So it’s very important for us that everyone who wants to donate blood and is eligible to do so is afforded that opportunity,” said American Red Cross Eastern NC executive director James Jarvis.

According to the CDC, all blood for transfusion is tested for evidence of infectious disease pathogens including hepatitis B and C and HIV.

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