All donors who wish to give blood will go through the same screening process, regardless of their sexuality or gender, from 1 June 2023.
Previously men who had sex with men were not permitted to give blood.
A person's eligibility to donate will now be based solely on an assessment of their individual experiences as part of their pre-donation safety check.
Donated blood is not only used for accidents and emergencies, but also for adult patients undergoing surgery and those requiring regular treatment for anaemia, cancer and blood diseases.
The Department of Health and Social Care and Manx Care have updated the screening criteria around who can give blood with regard to the latest evidence relating to blood donation and sexual behaviour presented by the FAIR steering group (For the Assessment of Individualised Risk), making the process more inclusive for all members of our society who may wish to donate.
The screening questions have been redesigned to ask all potential donors about recent illnesses, medications, travel or sexual activities that may prevent them from donating. This safety check is confidential, and aims to ensure that donors are fit to give blood and that their blood is safe for patients to receive.
Work has also been undertaken to modernise and improve blood donation and screening services on the Island in line with UK clinical guidelines, including the introduction of NAAT (Nucleic Acid Amplification) testing to ensure blood is safe from HIV and other blood-borne viruses such as Hepatitis B, C and E prior to any transfusion taking place.
Minister for Health and Social Care, Lawrie Hooper MHK, said:
‘Without people donating blood we wouldn’t be able to provide some of the lifesaving care that helps patients survive traumatic injuries, surgeries or chronic illnesses. Making our donation policy fairer and more inclusive was important to us and to our community.’
Dr. Marina Hudson, Manx Care’s Interim Executive Medical Director, added:
‘Changing the blood donation eligibility and screening process on the Island has been something we have been striving to do for a long time now, and so I’m really pleased that this important step forward is being made. We continue to follow the most stringent screening and testing guidelines both prior to and following donation as part of a risk-based approach that is in line with best clinical practice for this vital service.’
Most people can give blood. If you are generally in good health, between the ages of 17 and 70 (65 for your first donation) and weigh at least 7 stone 12 lbs (50kg), you could start giving blood.
More information can be found on the Giving Blood webpage.