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Blood Donation: Revamping the Process

For many years, members of the LGBTQ+ community have been inhibited in their ability to donate blood due to industry policy restrictions. Pursuant to new guidelines issued by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”), some of these restrictions are coming to an end.

The current American Red Cross policy, pursuant to previous FDA guidelines, requires that a male must be deemed ineligible to donate blood if they have had sex with another male in the past three months. The “MSM” policy, or “men who have sex with men” policy, has eliminated potential male donors who have otherwise been in excellent health.

On May 11, 2023, the FDA finalized their review and assessment of the blood donation process. Potential donors will no longer be disqualified simply because of their sexual orientation, but rather will undergo a personalized assessment based on each individual’s risks of spreading a sexually transmitted infection, such as HIV, that can be further transmitted by a blood transfusion. This approach has already been adopted by countries such as the United Kingdom and Canada.

As it currently stands, the American Red Cross has identified a critical need for blood donation. The COVID-19 pandemic forced the closure of donation centers and the cancellation of blood drives, causing the blood supply to sharply decrease since 2020. In the United States, someone requires whole blood or its components every two seconds, and given this daunting reality, the demand has been difficult to keep up with.

The American Red Cross plans to debut its new policy on August 7, 2023. The FDA and the American Red Cross anticipate that this new process will widen the donor pool, allowing more individuals to donate blood while still maintaining the integrity of the screening process and the health of all potential blood recipients. As one blood donation can save between one and three lives, a broader donor pool will increase the supply of blood available for those who need it most. It is the hope and belief of the FDA and American Red Cross that these new guidelines will save more lives.

Our firm has extensive experience counseling employers/businesses and others on statutory requirements, as well as preparing and implementing applicable policies. If you have any questions related to this Legal Briefing, please contact any member of our firm at 585-730- 4773.

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This Legal Briefing is intended for general informational and educational purposes only and should not be considered legal advice or counsel. The substance of this Legal Briefing is not intended to cover all legal issues or developments regarding the matter. Please consult with an attorney to ascertain how these new developments may relate to you or your business. © 2023 Law Offices of Pullano & Farrow PLLC


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