Blood donor eligibility no longer impacted by sexual orientation ahead of critical blood shortage

Published: Sep. 21, 2023 at 1:51 PM CDT
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - Blood banks across the nation are suffering from a critical blood shortage. But the Food and Drug Administration made a call in August that can drastically help with supply.

For the first time in decades, as of August 21, blood donor eligibility is evaluated independent of gender or sexual orientation. Under previous FDA guidance, sexually active gay and bisexual men were deferred from giving blood for three months.

Another change allows for individuals who spent time in Europe from 1980–1996 to give blood safely as well. Previously, those people were considered to have been exposed to the transmission of Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease, or mad cow disease.

Tori Robbins, Vitalant communications manager, says it’s perfect timing because the need for blood is so great.

“Vitalant has had about 15,000 fewer blood donations this summer than is actually needed to maintain a safe blood supply. So, we are seeing a worse shortage this summer than we have in past summers,” said Robbins.

Robbins says the biggest need is for type O negative and type O positive blood.

She says donations have dropped to lower levels than before the pandemic. She says it’s important to know that every time you donate blood, you save someone’s life.