FDA considering change to screening process for blood donation

The change could mean men with male sexual encounters could donate, a move some believe is past due
Published: Dec. 2, 2022 at 4:03 PM MST
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TWIN FALLS, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) — This holiday season, the American Red Cross is asking people to give the gift of life, by donating blood, to help maintain blood levels that have finally rebounded after being at crisis levels throughout the pandemic.

“We need to be able to keep that blood on the shelves and have it available when we need it,” said Matt Ochsner with the Red Cross. “There is no substitute for live-saving blood, it can’t be manufactured the only way that we are able to provide it to our hospital partners is through the generosity of our donors.”

A change could be coming soon that could open the doors for donors previously unqualified to donate.

The Food and Drug Administration is weighing a shift from blanket assessments toward risk-based donor screening, which would mean men with male sex partners would be able to donate, given they pass the risk assessment.

“On the one hand it would be such a relief to no longer have that barrier and be able to contribute to our communities in a meaningful way and be able to donate blood,” said President of Southern Idaho Pride Cory Smith. “At the same time, it is still frustrating that we’ve had this barrier this whole time and that this even exists.”

Smith says those who have previously been unable to donate have been frustrated by the current policy.

“When you understand that all the blood gets tested, regardless of who it comes from, it really makes it feel like an unnecessary barrier with unnecessary bias behind it,” Smith said.

Albeit somewhat frustrated, Southern Idaho Pride would welcome the change, and is looking forward to what it could mean in terms of potential partnerships.

“If they can change that, I would be so excited for Southern Idaho Pride to be able to host a blood drive where everyone could contribute equally,” said Smith.