Ban on blood from Irish in Britain may be lifted

Ban on blood from Irish in Britain may be lifted

IRISH people living in Britain may be able to donate blood at home again following a review of Irish Blood Transfusion Service rules.

Minister for Health Leo Varadkar has requested a review of rules which state that anyone who has been in Britain for a total of one year between 1980 and 1996 cannot donate blood in Ireland.

“The Minister has written to the Irish Blood Transfusion Service (IBTS) asking it to establish this review and report to him within six months of its commencement,” a spokesperson for the Department of Health said.

Current Irish Blood Transfusion Service (IBTS) regulations state that any person who has spent 365 days in Britain between 1980 and 1996 is prohibited from donating blood.

This includes England, Wales, Scotland, the Isle of Man, the Channel Islands and the North of Ireland.

The ban was introduced to curb the spread of the human form of BSE, more commonly known as mad cow disease.

The IBTS ruling on the matter is that any cumulative period of 12 months or more automatically excludes the person from ever donating blood in Ireland.

The risk of contracting vCJD, the human form of BSE, from being in Britain at this time is considered relatively low – but the ban on blood donations from these people has been in place for the past 10 years.

The upcoming review of the blood donation policy in Ireland will look at several contentious issues – including the ban on gay or bisexual men donating.

Minister Varadkar said last week that any changes made to the policy will be based on scientific fact.