Plasma donor at Australian Red Cross Blood Service

End of 22-year ‘mad cow’ ban means more people can donate blood in Australia from today

After more than two decades, people who were in the United Kingdom during the ‘mad cow disease’ outbreak can donate blood in Australia from today.

The outbreak of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy — commonly known as mad cow disease — in the UK in the 1980s and 1990s prompted Australia to ban blood donations from potentially affected people in December 2000.

But in April 2022 — almost 22-years later — the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) approved Red Cross Lifeblood to receive donations from people who lived in the UK between 1980 and 1996.

In the wake of that ruling from the TGA, Red Cross Lifeblood began working with its stakeholders on the implementation of the decision, and as of Monday, formerly ineligible people are able to donate.

Red Cross Lifeblood will mark the occasion at a press conference from 9.30am with the first donations.

Among the first donors will be Laurence and Judy Hibbert, who as parents of a child who needed blood transfusions for cancer treatment, have always wanted to donate, but couldn’t.

That changes from today.

It is not yet clear how many extra donors the lifting of the ban will unlock.(ABC News: Maisie Cohen)

What kind of difference will it make

Executive director of Donor Services for Red Cross Lifeblood, Cath Stone, said there were already 11 million Australians who are eligible to give blood, but only about half a million actually do.

She said it was not yet clear how many extra donors the lifting of the ban would unlock.

“We have a rough idea of ​​numbers but we’re really looking forward to seeing all the people who have been interested in giving blood,” she said.

“It’s the number-one question we get about blood deferrals, so I think we’ll have more to say about numbers once we get through our implementation plan.

“This has been a strong question from those in the community that want to give blood.”

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Blood shortage prompts urgent call for donation

Advocate calls for reform of ‘discriminatory’ policy

The lifting on the ban on blood from the UK will likely heighten calls for other blood bans to be done away with.

Most recently, there has been a push to allow bisexual men, gay men, and trans women to donate.


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