UHS urges blood donations under loosened FDA guidelines

Donor restrictions eased for travelers, people with recent tattoos and piercings

SAN ANTONIO – University Health System officials are urging people to donate blood who may have been disqualified under previous guidelines by the Food and Drug Administration.

Earlier this month, the FDA modified some restrictions in an effort to increase the blood supply during the COVID-19 pandemic. Officials say it has been determined that the donor eligibility criteria can be eased without compromising the safety of the blood supply.

“The new guidelines mean many people who formerly could not donate are now eligible, including many in San Antonio’s large military and retired military population – a real boon to the regional blood supply,” said UHS Public Relations Manager Elizabeth Allen.

The following changes were implemented on April 2:

  • For those with recent tattoos and piercings: the agency is changing the recommended deferral period from 12 months to 3 months.
  • For those who spent time in certain European countries or on military bases in Europe who were previously considered to have been exposed to a potential risk of transmission of Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease or Variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease, the agency is eliminating the recommended deferrals and is recommending allowing reentry of these donors.
  • For those who have traveled to malaria-endemic areas (and are residents of malaria non-endemic countries): the agency is changing the recommended deferral period from 12 months to 3 months. In addition, the guidance provides notice of an alternate procedure that permits the collection of blood and blood components from such donors without a deferral period, provided the blood components are pathogen-reduced using an FDA-approved pathogen reduction device.
  • For male donors who would have been deferred for having sex with another man: the agency is changing the recommended deferral period from 12 months to 3 months.
  • For female donors who would have been deferred for having sex with a man who had sex with another man: the agency is changing the recommended deferral period from 12 months to 3 months.

“I’m glad about the FDA guideline changes,” said Dr. John Daniels, medical director of donor services at University Health System. “These changes are based on evidence from the scientific community and literature. They may allow previously deferred donors to have an opportunity to save lives and give back to their community.”

Donors can schedule a time to donate blood online at DonateBloodToday.com or call Blood Donor Services with questions at 210-358-2812.

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About the Author:

Julie Moreno has worked in local television news for more than 20 years. She came to KSAT as a news producer in 2000. After producing thousands of newscasts, she transitioned to the digital team in 2015. She writes on a wide variety of topics from breaking news to trending stories and manages KSAT’s daily digital content strategy.