More people in Wales now eligible to donate

Changes to blood donation rules introduced on Monday 27th November will now allow men who have sex with men to donate blood sooner.

The changes follow recommendations made by the Department of Health Advisory Committee on the Safety of Blood, Tissues and Organs (SaBTO) which advises UK ministers and health departments.

The changes follow a review of blood donor criteria and risk assessment of certain behavior. The reductions in deferral periods are based on the most up to date scientific evidence and medical advances.

Current blood donation rules prevent people who engage in some sexual behaviours from giving blood for a period of time.

The changes being introduced today are a shortened deferral period for:

  • Men who have had sex with another man. As long as all other donation criteria are met, the individuals will be able to donate after three months have passed since the last sexual activity, a change from the previous 12 month deferral.
  • Commercial sex workers. If all other donation criteria are met, the individuals will be able to donate after three months have passed since the last sexual activity, a change from the previous lifetime deferral.
  • People who have sex with partners who are classed as high risk. If all other donation criteria are met, the individuals will be able to donate after three months have passed since the last sexual activity, a change from the previous 12 month deferral.

As a result of the latest clinical evidence, more people will be given the opportunity to donate blood without affecting the safety of the blood supply.

Cath O Brien, director of the Welsh Blood Service said: “We welcome the introduction of the revised guidelines as it will mean that more people can safely donate blood in Wales every day. We look forward to welcoming donors who might not have been able to donate to our clinics in the near future.”

Speaking in July, SaBTO Chair and Consultant Physician, Professor James Neuberger said:

“SaBTO has made these recommendations following a review of the latest scientific evidence. The UK now has a better understanding of infection transmission and is leading the way after this comprehensively researched and validated 3-month deferral period.

“The UK has one of the safest blood supplies in the world, and experts from around the country have analysed the latest information so even more people can have the opportunity to donate blood.”