After we reminded everybody about the restrictions in giving blood in Spain, following their recent plea for members of the international community to join in a blood donation drive arranged by Torrevieja Town Hall, we have received numerous letters and emails this week asking to print the article we covered regarding the prohibition order in place for UK citizens wishing to donate blood in Spain.
A couple of years ago we confirmed via the British Consulate that for fear of the effects of “Mad Cow” disease, there are considerable restrictions in force for Brits wanting to give blood overseas.
British Consul at the time, Paul Rodwell, explained how for fear of Variant Creutzfeld-Jacob Disease, you are not eligible to donate blood if you spent time either visiting or living in the United Kingdom for a cumulative time of 3 months or more between January 1st, 1980, through to December 31st, 1996. You are also not allowed to donate blood if you have received a transfusion in any country of the UK, which includes England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Island, but also includes the Channel Islands, Falkland Islands, Gibraltar and the Isle of Man, any time from the 1st January 1980, right up to present day.
Mr Rodwell confirmed these facts, stating, “What you refer to is correct, that anyone who lived in the UK between those dates cannot donate blood here in Spain. Confirmation of this can be found on the Spanish Red Cross blood donation website on their frequently asked question page”, which is www.donarsangre.org/puedo-donar-si/, although the restrictions have now changed and state that you cannot give blood “if you have been in the UK for a continuous period of one year between 1980 and 1996, or if you have received a transfusion in the country”.
However, dismissing one of the myths that this situation is only present in Spain, Mr Rodwell continued, “I understand that this is an international rule, not one invented by Spain. Our understanding is that these are American Red Cross eligibility rules and are respected
The statement from the American website of the International Red Cross is this…
In-Depth Discussion of Variant Creutzfeld-Jacob Disease and Blood Donation
In some parts of the world, cattle can get an infectious, fatal brain disease called Mad Cow Disease. In these same locations, humans have started to get a new disease called variant Creutzfeld-Jacob Disease (vCJD) which is also a fatal brain disease. Scientists believe that vCJD is Mad Cow Disease that has somehow transferred to humans, possibly through the food chain.
There is now evidence from a small number of case reports involving patients and laboratory animal studies that vCJD can be transmitted through transfusion. There is no test for vCJD in humans that could be used to screen blood donors and to protect the blood supply. This means that blood programs must take special precautions to keep vCJD out of the blood supply by avoiding collections from those who have been where this disease is found.
So, even blood supplies are running dangerously low in Spain, many of those who are prepared to donate are excluded internationally. The question of risk clearly outweighing the chance of survival, as the fact that “a small number of case reports” have found evidence of risk, it doesn´t offer practical help to the many people who have survived thanks directly to the generous donations of people who provide blood to the medical network each day.
When faced with a life or death situation, wouldn´t the majority of people take the chance that the survival rate is far likely to outweigh the risk, but the opportunity is taken away because of the decisions implemented and enforced around the world, led by the American branch of an organisation dedicated to saving life.
On the other hand, now you know the facts, you are now able to avoid the inconvenience of waiting around in queues to try to donate, perhaps identifying with the disappointment of prejudice that has dogged the gay community of the UK for years, only to find that your gift of life is not welcome, now simply because you might have been in the wrong place at the wrong time. Meanwhile, “From the Town Hall of Torrevieja, we want to thank you for your concern”.