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Changes to blood donation eligibility on 3 May 2021

5/3/2021 10:40

The Blood Service will change blood donation eligibility criteria in May, which means even more people can donate blood. The blood donation deferral periods following allergic reactions, cancers and risky sex-related behaviour will change on 3 May 2021.

Nurse of the Blood Service and a blood donor.

From now on, a serious allergic reaction or anaphylaxis will result in a blood donation deferral period of two weeks starting after the end of treatment. Previously, anaphylaxis, i.e. a sudden and serious generalized allergic reaction, resulted in permanent disqualification from donating blood.

Not all previous cancers prevent you from donating blood. You can donate blood if you’ve recovered from cancer and you are no longer being monitored provided it was localised, had not spread at the time of diagnosis, and was treated by localised surgery, localised radiotherapy or irrigation therapy. Cancers of this kind include many prostate cancers, bowel cancers, skin cancers, and localised cervical cancer.

Localised cancer recovery and follow-up can often take five years, but basal cell carcinomas, for instance, may not require monitoring at all. That’s why the deferral period in the case of basal cell carcinomas will shorten to a minimum of one month.

“We’ve worked extensively with international expert networks to shorten the deferral periods regarding cancers. It’s great news that, based on scientific evidence, we now can ease the eligibility criteria for blood donors with malignant tumours,” says Johanna Castrén, physician in charge at the Blood Service.

The blood donation deferral period after sex between men and after the buying and selling of sex will shorten from 12 months to 4 months. This change is based on the revised Finnish Medicines Agency (Fimea) regulation on blood services. 

“According to our risk assessment, the change will not affect blood product safety, so it’s safe to shorten the deferral period. We at the Blood Service consider this change a step towards a situation where the deferral periods for risky sex-related behaviour are most appropriate based on the available evidence,” Castrén adds.