Dublin South West TD, Seán Crowe, has welcomed the news that the Irish Blood Transfusion Service (IBTS) have lifted the ban on people who were resident in the North and Britain during the vCJD, or ‘Mad cow disease’ crisis, donating blood in this State.

The Sinn Féin TD has called on the IBTS to also adopt a more flexible approach to citizens who have hemochromatosis. He also reiterated the call for more people to come forward and give blood.

Deputy Seán Crowe said:

“There is no doubt that in order to protect the high standard of the State’s blood supply and following the scandalous approach in the past where people were given contaminated blood products, the IBTS has to adhere to the strictest of scientific guidelines.

“The move from the IBTS to lift this ban follows a special meeting of its medical advisory committee where it was agreed that the predicted number of vCJD cases had been lower than anticipated.

“Given the passage of time since the vCJD outbreak, also known as the ‘mad cow disease’ crisis, and the demonstrable need for additional blood donations, this issue clearly warranted a new approach

“I welcome the news that the board of the IBTS have subsequently decided to lift this ban on people from the North or those who lived in Britain between the years of 1980 and 1996 giving blood. This decision will undoubtedly have a positive impact on the availability of blood and is a shot in the arm for the supply chain.”

Crowe continued:

“This decision will hopefully open doors to more people who may have been keen to donate blood and help save lives but were unable to do just that due to the ban. This ground-breaking decision needs to be followed up with a new more enlightened approach to the giving of blood.

“The IBTS should also adopt a more flexible approach to citizens who have hemochromatosis, a blood disorder that causes irregularly high levels of iron in the blood. This blood is perfectly safe but unlike other jurisdictions, it is not used in Ireland and is discarded.

“Considering the prevalence of hemochromatosis in our population our current approach needs consideration and action.

“I am not calling for a return of light regulation but for a more enlightened scientific approach to be adopted when it comes to blood donation.

“Lastly I would like to join the call for more people to come forward and give blood. Every year thousands of patients require blood transfusions in our hospitals, because they are undergoing surgery, recovering from cancer or have been in a serious accident. 3,000 blood donors are needed each week in Ireland. The demand never ends and it only it takes minutes to help save a life.”