News National Blood bank pushes for rethink on British ban

Blood bank pushes for rethink on British ban

blood donors festive season
Australians are urged to roll up their sleeves to give the Christmas gift that keeps on giving. Photo: AAP
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An Australian blood bank is reconsidering a ban on receiving donations from those in Britain during the “mad cow disease” epidemic.

Lifeblood, a branch of the Australian Red Cross, does not accept blood from anyone who was in Britain for six months or more from 1980 to 1996.

At the time, there was a large outbreak of bovine spongiform encephalopathy in European cattle, with most cases of the human variant – Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD) – identified in Britain.

The fatal brain disease is believed to be caused by eating beef products infected with BSE, and it can be transmitted through blood transfusions.

The Australian Red Cross previously set the limit at six months to “reduce the risk without threatening our blood supply”.

But a spokeswoman said Lifeblood had reviewed the latest medical advice and was preparing a submission to propose wait time changes for those who lived in or visited Britain during the vCJD risk period.

“Our submission is currently being reviewed by external medical experts, prior to consideration by the Australian regulator, the Therapeutic Goods Administration,” she said on Monday.

“We look forward to having more to say about our submission in future.

“Lifeblood would like to make it easier for all Australians to give blood, while ensuring Australia’s blood and blood products are as safe as possible for blood recipients.”

Late in March, Lifeblood said the nation’s bloodstocks were running low after record-breaking floods across NSW led to a drop in donations.

The group needs 31,000 donations every week to help Australians undergoing trauma, surgery, cancer treatment, pregnancy and a host of other situations.