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11th Sep 2019

UK blood donation ban in Ireland to be lifted next month

The ban was introduced in 2004.

The Irish Blood Transfusion Service (IBTS) has announced that the permanent deferral of people who had resided in the UK for a cumulative period of more than one year between 1980 and 1996 will be removed next month.

Until now, anyone who lived in the UK between 1980 and 1996 for more than a year has been not allowed to give a blood donation in Ireland.

The ban had been in place over the potential risk of transmission of Variant Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease (vCJD) and included residents of Northern Ireland and the Channel Islands.

“The permanent deferral for one-year residency in the UK was introduced in November 2004,” the Irish Blood Transfusion Service said in a statement.

“This resulted in the loss of approximately 10,000 donors and has been a source of annoyance to those donors that they have not been able to donate since that date.”

“The IBTS has to protect the patient who receives blood and this step was necessary at that time. The evidence now available allows the IBTS to overturn this deferral and reinstate those donors.”

While there have been four probable cases of transfusion transmission of vCJD, these occurred before the blood services started to remove white cells from donated blood and none of these cases were in Ireland.

There have been no reported cases of vCJD in people born after 1989 and there have been no cases since white blood cells were taken out of the blood by scientists in 1999.