Blood donor restrictions loosened by the FDA to fight donor shortage

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has revised its eligibility requirements for donating blood due to decreasing blood donations during the pandemic.

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The decision was based on completed studies and data that shows the changes won't compromise blood supply.

The following changes include:

  • For those with recent tattoos and piercings: the agency is changing the recommended deferral period from 12 months to three months.
  • Eliminating deferrals for people who may have been exposed to Creutzfeld-Jakob Disease while in certain European countries or on military bases
  • The deferral period for men who have had sex with another man has been shortened from a year to three months
  • The deferral period for people who have traveled to malaria-endemic areas has been shortened from a year to three months

The FDA's full list of changes can be found here.

The changes will remain in effect even after the COVID-19 pandemic.

The changes could mean an increase in donors for blood banks like the Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center.

"The FDA is constantly trying to balance the risk to the blood supply, making of course every transfusion as safe as is absolutely possible, Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center chief medical officer Susan Rossman said. "With the fact that we need to have donors, we need to have people who are available."

The Blood Center is also asking people who have recovered form COVID-19 to donate convalescent plasma to help treat patients with the virus in local hospitals.

To donate blood, visit or call 713-791-6608.

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