After more than two decades, people who were in the United Kingdom during the “mad cow disease” outbreak can donate blood in Australia.
Since December 2000, anyone who had spent a total of six months or more in the UK between 1980 and 1996 were prevented from donating blood.
It was a precautionary measure in response to the UK outbreak of mad cow disease and concerns about the risk of acquiring human variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease, a fatal disease with an incubation period of many years and no screening test to identify carriers.
The ban was lifted on Monday after approval by the Therapeutic Goods Administration following an in-depth risk assessment.
The change means about 18,000 more people will be eligible to donate blood.
It comes as Australia’s blood supply continues to struggle to keep up with demand, with Lifeblood putting calls out for blood donations.
On a normal week, 33,000 donations are needed. Around one third of them usually come from donors in NSW.
All blood types are required, but the call is particularly strong for O negative donors – the universal blood type used in emergencies.
The lifting of the ban is expected to increase calls for other blood donation bans.
There has recently been a push to allow bisexual me, gay men and transwomen to donate.
This group is banned for donating blood in Australia if they have had sex with men in the past three months.
To donate, visit lifeblood.com.au or call up your local clinic