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Unnecessary Barrier to Blood Donation for British Nationals?


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I read with great interest Jo Cavallo’s article “Maintaining Blood Donations During the COVID-19 Pandemic”. My wife and I have been British residents in the United States for over 6 years and are frustrated that we cannot donate blood, especially during this raging global COVID-19 pandemic, when blood donations are so badly needed.

Recommendations from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) prevent us, and all British residents in this country, from becoming blood donors if we were living in the United Kingdom during the outbreak of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (commonly referred to as mad cow disease) in 1996, over fear that we may transmit the disease through our blood. To reduce the risk, the FDA recommendations prevent us from giving blood if we lived in the United Kingdom for 6 months or more from 1980 to 1997.

Since millions of people in the United Kingdom who lived through that period have given blood with no resurgence of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in that country, it seems like a huge overreaction to exclude British nationals from becoming blood donors. Ending these outdated FDA restrictions to enable tens of thousands of British residents in the United States to become blood donors would seem a very sensible move in these times, given the incredible need to increase the blood bank supply. We want to support the U.S. health-care system. Give us this opportunity to be of service.

I also want to take this opportunity to thank the editorial team at The ASCO Post for their outstanding coverage of adolescent and young adult oncology. 

Simon Davies
Executive Director
Teen Cancer America
Los Angeles

DISCLOSURE: Mr. Davies reported no conflicts of interest. 

DISCLAIMER: Letters to the Editor represent the views of the author and may not necessarily reflect the views of ASCO or The ASCO Post.


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