Expat wants clarity on donating blood

Liz Sellers wants to give blood.
Liz Sellers wants to give blood.

Liz Sellers and her family have long wanted to give blood and plasma, but have found themselves stymied because they previously lived in the UK.

People who lived in the UK for a period of six months or more between January 1, 1980 and December 31, 1996, are not allowed to give blood due to the risks posed by mad cow disease. The same rule applies for anyone who has received blood transfusions in the UK since 1 January 1980.

Ms Sellers said she believed issues with the number of blood donations at Rockingham’s Donor Centre are likely to be related to the high proportion of British migrants in the community.

‘If I go to hospital and need blood I can get it, but I can’t repay the favour,’ she said.

Red Cross Blood Service spokeswoman Jessica Willet said the number of cases of variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (the human form of mad cow disease, or bovine spongiform encephalopathy) in the UK was declining, but there was still no screening test for the disease.

‘Since 2004, there have been a small number of reported cases of patients in the UK diagnosed with vCJD who have been infected through blood transfusion,’ she said.

‘Unfortunately, because of the extensive time period covered by the deferral and the possibility of unknowing exposure to beef or beef products, it is not possible to exempt vegetarians. The Blood Service is monitoring progress in the development of a reliable blood screening test for vCJD.

‘Should this deferral policy be changed for any reason, please be assured that this information will be disseminated widely.’

– To roll up your sleeve and donate, call 13 95 96.