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Bermuda eases blood donor restrictions

Restrictions on who can give blood have been eased (File Photograph)

Restrictions on who can give blood in Bermuda are being eased.

The Bermuda Blood Donor Centre has said that people who spent time in Britain, France and a number of other European countries between 1980 and 1996 will now be eligible to donate.

The restrictions were put in place in 2000 due to concerns that such donors could have been exposed to bovine spongiform encephalopathy.

The BBDC has said that new research showed that there is “negligible” risk of BSE being transmitted by giving blood.

Eyitayo Fakunle, consultant haematologist and clinical lead for the BBDC, said: “We are following similar decisions made in the US, Australia and Ireland in changing our criteria to accept donors who have spent time in the UK and Europe.

“Our primary concern is always blood safety.

“Research shows that the risk to patients is negligible from receiving blood products from people who spent time in Europe between 1980 and 1996, and this has been supported by real world evidence.”

When cases in Britain peaked around 2000, it was unknown how widespread BSE was, what the incubation period might be, and what the risks were for transmission via blood transfusion.

“The ban was implemented in 2000 out of an abundance of caution because there was no test for the disease, and the risks were not known.

“We appreciate it has been frustrating for people impacted by the criteria, but we are also sure they understand how the many unknowns at the time meant we had to be cautious.

“The safety of our blood is always our first consideration.

“Following extensive published research, we are now confident that we can change this criteria safely.

“This change has gone through a thorough approval process in Bermuda.

“On behalf of the whole Bermuda Blood Donor Team, we all look forward to welcoming donors back.”

Dr Fakunle said that the US and Australia ended a similar ban last year, and Ireland changed its rules in 2019.

A spokeswoman for the BBDC said the ban was imposed “due to concerns about a potential of exposure to meat from cows with bovine spongiform encephalopathy”.

She added: “There is evidence that this can cause variant Creutzfeld-Jakob disease – vCJD — in humans.

“Since it first emerged in 1996, vCJD has affected about 232 people in the world, 178 of whom were in Britain.

“Cases in the UK have been declining since 2003, with two cases over the last ten years in 2013 and 2016. There have never been any cases in Bermuda.”

People wanting to donate blood can book an appointment by calling 236-5067 or WhatsApp 533–9553.

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Published June 05, 2023 at 7:49 am (Updated June 05, 2023 at 7:42 am)

Bermuda eases blood donor restrictions

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