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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – The Oklahoma Blood Institute has changed its donor eligibility rules to enable more people to give blood after a greater need for donations emerged because of the winter storm.

“Many veterans, healthcare workers and other civic minded individuals who were disqualified in the past are now cleared to donate again,” an OBI news release states.

The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) recently revised a number of blood donor eligibility requirements because of the nationwide blood shortage in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Those revisions are as follows:

• Those who spent extended time in many European countries are now no longer deferred due to Mad Cow Disease risks. This change will likely allow many veterans and military personnel to donate blood.

Individuals in the following groups will remain deferred because of European residency:
o Those who spent three months or more in the United Kingdom from 1980-1996
o Those who spent five years or more in France or Ireland from 1980-2001

• The following now only have a three-month deferral period (these were previously 12- month deferrals):
o Tattoos, ear piercings, and body piercings from unlicensed or unlisted facilities
o Blood transfusions
o Accidental needle stick or splash for health care workers
o Travel to malarial-endemic areas

“We’re excited to see the FDA use the latest scientific data to adjust deferral criteria, allowing us to welcome back many donors,” said John Armitage, M.D., president and CEO of Oklahoma Blood Institute. “Many donors who have previously been unable to give are now able to support the community blood supply that patients so desperately count on to recover from trauma, fight cancer, undergo surgery or battle life-threatening diseases.”

The OBI news release said diabetes, high blood pressure or thyroid disease are often not obstacles to donating blood.

Donors who have received the COVID-19 vaccine – either Moderna or Pfizer – face no waiting time before giving blood or platelets.

Individuals who are unsure of their eligibility to donate blood are advided to call (405) 419-1538 to ask questions about their eligibility. Answers to frequently asked questions are listed at obi.org/blood-donation/can-i-donate.

“Oklahoma Blood Institute is urging healthy adults age 16 or older of all blood types to give as soon as possible if they can safely visit a convenient donor center or mobile blood drive,” the news release states.

Go to obi.org or call (877) 340-8777 to make an appointment to donate blood. Walk-ins are welcome.

Blood donors will be entered into a daily drawing for a $2,000 prize. One winner is drawn each day.

“All blood donors who give during this emergency will be entered for a chance to win a 2021 Subaru Outback Premium AWD from Bob Moore Auto Group! The car winner will be announced at a later date,” the news release states.