MAY 22, 2002 - America's Blood Centers, an international
network of community blood centers that provide nearly
half of the U.S. volunteer blood supply, could lose more
than 300,000 donations of blood after the first round
of an FDA-mandated deferral policy goes into effect on
Food and Drug Administration's guidelines are being implemented
to protect the blood supply against the theoretical risk
of mad cow disease and focus mainly on European travel.
These restrictions, combined with an increased usage of
blood because of an aging population, may cause a shortfall
of about one million donations of blood by the end of
we learned from September 11th, Columbine and the Oklahoma
City bombing, it is the blood already on the shelves of
hospitals and blood centers that saves lives. We are concerned
that these deferrals may increase blood shortages, especially
as we head into summer months when it's most difficult
to collect enough blood to keep up with demand," says
Jeanne Dariotis, President of America's Blood Centers.
we have had several months to prepare ourselves and our
donors, there is still a concern about the impact of these
deferrals. Many loyal donors will no longer be able to
give blood and that is really devastating. In order to
assure that blood will be available when it's needed,
regular donors need to give blood more often and new donors
must replace those lost from the deferrals. We are hopeful
people will respond to this challenge."
following restrictions will become effective May 31
by the FDA. People who Meet one or more will not be
eligible to donate blood:
you lived in France for 5 years or more between 1980
and the present
If you have visited or lived in the United Kingdom
for a total of 3 months or more between 1980 and 1996
you received a blood transfusion in the UK between
1980 and the present
Military personnel (current and former), and their
dependents, who spent time in military bases in northern
Europe during 1980-1990, or southern Europe during
1980-1996, for 6 months or more
than anything, we are concerned about people who may mistakenly
self defer. We ask people to carefully read the deferral
criteria and contact their local blood center before making
a decision on whether or not they can donate," says Dariotis.
new deferral policy will also have great impact on the
U.S. military, which could lose up to 25% of its donor
base, totaling about 30,000 units.
addition to the May 31 deferrals, the FDA has already
declared that another round of deferrals will go into
effect October 31, 2002, also affecting travel abroad
and recent immigrants from Europe. FDA will extend the
deferral to people who have visited or lived in Europe
for a total of 5 years or more between 1980 and present.
added restrictions will end the use of 140,000 units of
red blood cells received from Europe, known as Euroblood,
by New York Blood Center, which supplies blood to 200
community hospitals in New York City, Long Island, New
York's Hudson Valley and northern and central New Jersey.
New York is increasing it blood collections, as well as
establishing agreements with ABC centers around the U.S.
to help replace these units.
several years of looking, scientists and public health
officials have found no evidence that mad cow disease
is transmitted through blood transfusions," says Celso
Bianco, MD, Executive Vice President of America's Blood
Centers. "These deferrals are precautionary measures dealing
with the theoretical risk to help insure the safety of
the blood supply. We hope that ongoing research will provide
definitive answers in the foreseeable future."
the face of new deferrals, America's Blood Centers encourages
eligible donors to donate blood several times a year to
compensate for the losses and to fulfill the increasing
demand for blood by the aging U.S. population, new cancer
therapies and transplants and now, travel deferrals. Only
about eight million Americans donate blood - that's less
than three percent of the population.
blood cells have a 42-day shelf life and platelets only
5 days, so the supply must constantly be replaced. People
can donate blood every 56 days, or every eight weeks -
up to six times annually. Plasma can be given twice a
week and platelets 24 times a year.
largest providers of blood products and services, America's
Blood Centers' members are located in 45 states and Canada,
serving more than 125 million people at 450 blood donation
sites. For 40 years, America's Blood Centers' members
have been committed to serving the needs of their local
communities by saving lives through volunteer blood donation.
more information on America's Blood Centers, please call
America's Blood Centers toll-free at 1-888-USBLOOD or
visit our Web site at www.americasblood.org.
Blood Services, 970 Linwood Avenue West, Paramus, NJ is
a member of America's Blood Centers.