Remove Outdated Restrictions on Blood Donors

Target: The American Red Cross

Goal: Remove over-the-top restrictions for blood donors

Over the last decade, we have heard numerous times the call for more donors as blood banks throughout the country run dry.  However, the Red Cross’s overly cautious and discriminatory practices in accepting blood donations have a large hand in the blame.  One of the most unwarranted limitations for blood donors has to do with an illness known as variant Creutzfeld-Jacob Disease (vCJD), often associated with Mad Cow Disease.  Lifetime limitations are put on donors, even if they are unfamiliar with the disease, if they have traveled to the United Kingdom for more than three months over the 16-year period between 1980 and 1996. There are also strict rules governing those who have served in the military in either the UK or 8 other European countries between this time, or those who have lived in more than 30 countries since 1980.

The Red Cross instituted these restrictions for understandable reasons.  Prior to 2011, there was no test for vCJD that could be used to screen blood donors or test supplies.  These restrictions, however, were non-proportionally the result of “a small number of case reports” involving lab animal studies that said the disease might be transferred through blood transfusion.

Now, however, a test for vCJD exists and is in use in the UK. By easing over-the-top restrictions and testing for the disease in at-risk patients, the American Red Cross could introduce a wealth of new and healthy blood into the system that could help patients with life-threatening diseases.  Sign this petition and tell the Red Cross to begin testing at-risk vCJD blood samples and remove harsh restrictions on donors in the United States.


Dear American Red Cross,

Blood shortages in the US are a common problem, but one that could be aided by lessening restrictions on donors who are at risk for vCJD.  When the Red Cross stopped accepting donations from UK citizens in the late 1990’s, no test existed to screen potential donors for the disease.  As a result, thousands of healthy and willing donors were turned away and blood banks fell short of supplies.  However, patients in the UK are now being screened for vCJD and the test is showing itself to be effectual and trustworthy.

The United States is not yet utilizing this screening test even though doing so could save thousands of lives.  By removing restrictions on a large pool of donors and testing for this rare disease, the Red Cross can reintroduce a number of loyal donors and help increase the blood and platelet supply.  There is no doubt that patients in need of transfusions will thank you for the resulting increase in healthy blood supplies.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Singaporepoly via Flickr

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