Decades-old blood donor ban lifted

The move could add many more donors in the U.S. every year.
Published: Feb. 27, 2023 at 8:05 PM CST
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - A decades-old blood donor ban was recently lifted by the Food and Drug Administration, potentially increasing the nation’s blood supply. The FDA lifted its restrictions on people who had been overseas amid outbreaks of mad cow disease.

In the mid ‘80s, Paul Flomer was involved in an accident that almost ended his life.

“They put 27 units of blood through me before I stabilized. So I’ve always felt like I needed to give blood to give back all that was given to me,” said Flomer

Flomer, a Navy veteran, couldn’t give blood for more than 20 years because he was stationed in Europe during a deadly mad cow disease outbreak. Now he’s proud to be able to roll up his sleeve again.

“I found out that I was able to give blood again, and I just went in as quick as I could before they changed their minds,” said Flomer.

Sharon Carpenter with LifeSouth Community Blood Centers says they’ve ramped up efforts to recruit previously deferred blood donors, saying, “Anyone in our system that was previously deferred for the travel, we are sending emails as well as text messaging.”

The FDA lifted its restrictions on U.S. citizens who lived, worked or vacationed in the United Kingdom, France, Ireland or served at military bases in Europe during various periods between 1980 and 2001.

“Every donor is important, and a lot of military personnel, they understand the importance of donating blood and they want to donate, said Carpenter. “So we are glad that the FDA lifted this ban.”

With more donors eligible to donate, Carpenter says this could potentially bolster blood collections, which lagged during the pandemic.

Carpenter said there was a national blood shortage last year, and a recent, local blood shortage for area hospitals. She said it’s been very tough.

“We are the local blood supplier 100% for all of our hospitals in the tri-county area. So any increase in donations helps us locally. And it helps that blood supply for those hospitals.”

One donation can save up to three lives. You can donate every 56 days.

LifeSouth is located at 4139 Carmichael Rd. in Montgomery.

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