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Kentucky Blood Center Welcomes Back Donors

Kentucky Blood Center Welcomes Back Donors
By Dr. Dennis Williams

Following recently updated guidance by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Kentucky Blood Center reinstated eligibility for donors who were previously deferred from blood donation due to travel or residence in the United Kingdom, France or Ireland.

The deferral was related to a theoretical risk of transmitting variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (vCJD, also known as mad cow disease) to blood transfusion recipients. The FDA determined this is no longer a concern for donors who have previously lived in the United Kingdom and other European countries.

As a result, KBC removed all indefinite deferrals for nearly 4,000 KBC donors who were affected by the previous guidance in December. Those donors can return to any KBC location immediately to resume donations.

We are really excited to welcome back the thousands in our community who were previously denied the opportunity to give the gift of life. This move not only impacts donors who were previously deferred, it offers an opportunity for countless other individuals who have never attempted to donate because they were aware of the deferral.

KBC hopes to educate those who previously refrained from donating blood due to their time spent overseas related to this deferral to visit a KBC donor center or mobile blood drive as soon as possible.

Donors will still see questions on the health history questionnaire related to time spent overseas, but that travel will no longer result in a deferral related to vCJD. Of course, there are many things that can cause a deferral, but KBC encourages everyone newly eligible under this guidance change to give blood donation a try.

Previous FDA guidance recommended indefinite deferral for people who spent time in the United Kingdom from 1980 to 1996 or France and Ireland from 1980 to 2001, or people who received a blood transfusion in the U.K., France or Ireland from 1980 to the present.

The removal of the 20-year-old European ban comes at an important time for Kentucky’s blood supply. Blood donations have been significantly low over the last two and a half years, and while donor turnout has failed to return to pre-pandemic levels, transfusion usage has continued to grow.

The diverging trends have put a significant strain on Kentucky Blood Center, which provides blood to 70-plus hospitals across the state. KBC strives to maintain a three-day supply of blood to meet hospital needs for everything from cancer treatments to premature births, car accidents, diseases, surgeries and more, but KBC has often operated with a day’s supply or less for many blood types since the start of the pandemic.

We hope you’ll help us spread the word about this new opportunity for this group of donors. For more information, people can visit kybloodcenter.org or call 800-775-2522.