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Blood donation review released

Thursday 24th May 2012

Description: 

More Australians could be eligible to give blood thanks to a report from an independent expert Committee established by the Australian Red Cross Lifeblood.

The committee has examined some of the rules around how long people must wait before donating blood.

The Review of Blood Donor Deferrals Relating to Sexual Activity has recommended that sexually active gay men may be able to donate blood after a six month wait, providing that further donor research demonstrates that this would not threaten the safety of the blood supply will now be considered by the Lifeblood and other bodies.

The recommended research will take about one year, and will assess the accuracy of information blood donors supply before they donate blood.  The Lifeblood will join with the Kirby Institute to conduct the research, (known as a compliance study).

The independent Review recommended that a compliance study will establish if reducing the wait from 12 months to six months before sexually active gay men donate, would threaten the safety of the blood supply.

A six month delay would halve the current deferral period for sexually active gay men.

The independent Review was established in 2010 to consider all deferrals relating to sexual activity. The Chair of the Review, Professor Steve Wesselingh, said the Committee received almost 40 submissions, and also considered expert opinion and international research data.

“The process has been extremely thorough, and we are confident that this evidence-based approach will ensure the safety of the blood supply is protected” Professor Wesselingh said.

The Lifeblood praised the diligence of the Review Committee. “The Review Committee has kept the safety of the blood supply at the centre of its deliberations” Dr Tony Keller, National Safety Specialist at the Lifeblood said.  “We will now consider their findings and have already commenced discussions with the Kirby Institute to undertake the compliance study.”

“The recommended research will be an Australian first” Dr Keller said.  “A number of other countries are also undertaking compliance studies, and we are also collaborating with them.”

“In Australia, potential blood donors are deferred if there are permanent or temporary issues which might pose a risk to themselves or the blood supply,” Dr Keller said.

Internationally, Japan and South Africa currently have a six month deferral for male donors who have sex with men.  In the United States, Canada and much of Europe sexually active gay men cannot donate blood at all, while in the UK and Hungary, a one year deferral is in place.

For further information please see: http://www.bloodrulesreview.com.au or contact the media team.