Ireland Experiences Shortage Of Blood While Restrictions On Gay Donors Remain

Despite the shortage of blood donations, there are still restrictions about "gay blood" which could help to save many lives.

a blood bag shaped like a heart filled with blood

Donors have been urged to donate blood following a warning about a potential shortage over Christmas and New Year in Ireland.

The Irish Blood Transfusion Service says more than 10,000 donations will be needed over the next few weeks to maintain the supply.

It says 200 patients need a blood transfusion every day and that the festive period can be a particular challenge in making sure there’s enough.

Paul McKinney – Operations Director of the IBTS – is urging donors to give a priceless gift this Christmas:

“You can save a life. Usually at this time of year coming up to Christmas and New Year, we find it difficult to get the blood supply up to where we want.

Despite the shortage, the Irish Blood Transfusion Service applies a 12-month deferral period for men who have sex with men.

“Only 3 per cent of the eligible population of Ireland are active blood donors yet one in four people will require a blood transfusion at some time in their lives.”

The IBTS tests all prospective blood donors for a number of diseases, including HIV, hepatitis B and hepatitis C.

Recently, the Peter Tatchell Foundation issued a challenge to governments worldwide to ‘Screen the Blood Not The Sexuality‘.

Tatchell himself said, “These restrictions may have made sense when first enforced in the 1980s at a time when HIV was primarily affecting gay and bisexual men in the West and when HIV testing methods were less accurate.”

But long ago HIV ceased to be connected to a particular sexual orientation and the testing of donated blood is now very exhaustive and accurate.

He continued, “It is time that blood banks worldwide focused more on identifying and excluding individuals who’ve engaged in high-risk behaviour – regardless of whether they are gay or straight – instead of making assumptions that all gay and bisexual men are a high risk of HIV.”

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