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FDA eases some blood donation rules; emergency drive set

COVID-19 is straining blood supplies, but some changes to the rules about blood donations may free up donors who were previously ineligible.

The Community Blood Bank announced changes made by the FDA regarding blood donation guidelines and scheduled an emergency drive for 3 to 7 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 8, at the Holy Redeemer Center on Russell Street in Warren.

Those who were ineligible previously because they had been lived or been stationed on a military base in Europe anytime between 1980 to 1996 are immediately eligible, as are those who lived in Europe — with exceptions for Ireland and Franch — for a total of five years or more from 1980 through the present. Those who lived for at least three months in the United Kingdom from 1980 to 1996 are sill ineligible.

Other deferrals have been reduced from 12 to 3 months. Those situations include: tattoos and piercings; travel (but not residence in) malarial endemic countries; blood exposures including: needle sticks, blood transfusions, organ transplants, and skin or bone grafts; and males who had sexual contact with males.

The FDA made the changes in April and Community Blood Bank has been updating its software, training, and procedures in order to comply.

“We appreciate the patience from our donors for these highly anticipated changes,” Community Relations Specialist Jaclyn Seymour said. “We are thrilled to get started with these changes and hopefully see more donors and donors who previously could not donate be able to come help save local lives.”

Officials hope the changes will help alleviate blood shortages.

“We are facing a very critical need for all blood types, particularly Type O blood donors,” Seymour said. “This is a great way to give back to the community during this time of need.”

In addition to the Sept. 8 emergency drive, there are drives scheduled for:

¯ Monday, Sept. 14 — 4:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Lander Fire Hall;

¯ Tuesday, Sept. 15 — noon to 5 p.m. at Holy Redeemer Center;

¯ Friday, Sept. 18 — 1 to 4 p.m. at Mountain Laurel Federal Credit Union, 1513 Pennsylvania Ave. E., Warren; and

¯ Wednesday, Sept. 23 — 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Warren Manor, 682 Pleasant Dr., Warren.

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