In the wake of Red Cross Lifeblood’s decision to ease restrictions on whole blood donation by people with tattoos, the Let Us Give campaign has called on Lifeblood to do the same with gay, bisexual and transgender donors.
From today, the four month blood donation restriction on people with new tattoos has been reduced to one week, and there is no restriction for plasma donation. Lifeblood estimates the change will result in 10,000 extra blood donations a year.
Meanwhile, gay men, and bisexual men and trans women who have sex with men, must be sexually abstinent for three months before donating whole blood. Let Us Give spokesperson, Rodney Croome said lifting that ban would deliver even greater resources for the Red Cross.
“We estimate that lifting the gay blood ban would result in over 54,000 extra donations per year, which is over five times as many new donations than Lifeblood estimates from the easing of tattoo restrictions,” Mr Croome said.
“The science and the international experience show that there is no risk from lifting the current gay blood ban if there is a new system in place that assesses all donors for their individual risk.
“The UK, US, Canada, Germany, France and the Netherlands have all adopted individual risk assessment and Australia should too.
“Lifeblood says it will allow plasma-only donation for gay men, and bisexual men and trans women who have sex with men, but we believe that will make gay, bi and trans people second-class donors.
“We note that Lifeblood has eased restrictions on both whole blood and plasma from people with tattoos, so why not gay, bisexual and transgender donors as well?”
Lifeblood has approval from the Therapeutic Goods Administration to allow gay plasma donation, but not whole blood donation. Mr Croome said the plasma-only option will solve neither the shortages of whole blood nor discrimination in blood donation.
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