Restrictions for gay and bisexual men to give blood set to ease
"A progressive move that I hope will be widely welcomed."
The Government is set to ease restrictions on gay and bisexual men who wish to donate blood.
The announcement was made on Wednesday (22 December) via a series of tweets from Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly.
"We are introducing changes to our deferral policy for blood donations from men who have sex with men (MSM)," Donnelly said.
"The changes will be introduced in two phases with the initial phase being introduced by the end of March 2022, with the second phase being introduced later in in the year.
"The initial phase will reduce the existing 12-month deferral for MSM to four months.
"This is an interim measure while the Irish Blood Transfusion Service introduces new technology, to replace the existing paper health and lifestyle questionnaire (HLQ).
"This is an important step and follows a report to the Irish Blood Transfusion Service Board by an independent advisory group chaired by Professor Mary Horgan.
"A progressive move that I hope will be widely welcomed," he concluded.
We are introducing changes to our deferral policy for blood donations from men who have sex with men (MSM). The changes will be introduced in two phases with the initial phase being introduced by the end of March 2022 and the second phase being introduced later in 2022.
— Stephen Donnelly (@DonnellyStephen) December 22, 2021
The move comes as Ireland was required to import blood from the NHS to meet demand for the second time this year.
“In recent weeks appointment cancellations and the high level of COVID-19 circulating in the community has made it difficult to fill all of our donation appointments," said Medical and Scientific Director Professor Stephen Field.
"This means that for the last number of weeks we have been issuing more blood to hospitals than we have been able to collect.
"This trend is being encountered by most blood services internationally.
“Stocks of the main Rh negative blood groups are under particular pressure, especially O negative which is considered the universal blood group and is always in demand.
“It has been a very tough couple of years for everyone but as hospital demand remains strong right up to Christmas, the demand for blood is as great as ever and we are urging donors to make an appointment to give blood.
"If you receive a text message from us, please respond to the number provided to make an appointment,” he concluded.
Those looking to give blood can find more information from the IBTS' website.