New risk-based assessments in place to determine who can donate blood

FARGO, N.D. (KVRR) – Blood shortages have been at critical levels for a long time, but there is something being done to address that according to the Red Cross. They are using a new inclusive risk-based assessment to determine if someone can donate blood, regardless of sexual orientation.

“This is a historic change in blood banking and it is very exciting to implement these new changes,” said Carrie Carlson-Guest, the Minnesota and Dakotas Regional Communications Manager for the Red Cross. “Just to see more people being excited, seeing people talk about it. Share the news on social media. It is really exciting.”

Carlson-Guest said she has a friend who has always wanted to donate blood, and now he can under the new guidelines.

“He is so excited,” said Carlson-Guest. “I did get to talk to him. Last week he knew that this change was coming and he is actually going to be scheduling a blood donation soon and I am hoping I can meet up with him when he is donating blood.”

This mainly impacts gay men, who were not allowed to donate blood for the past 40 years due to the H-I-V and AIDs epidemic in the 80s.

“We’re hoping to see a significant increase in people being able to donate,” said Jessica Howell, a transfusion services program manager. “Moving to these individual donor-based questions, there’s going to be a huge benefit. There’s a lot of people out there who want to do good and help the community who haven’t been able to. Just because of who they love.”

The Red Cross says these new guidelines come from the FDA and will be based on behaviors rather than groups of people. Other groups like Essentia Health and their partnerships are making changes to implement these new guidelines.

“A wonderful step. It’s so important that we really are working towards inclusivity in healthcare.” said Howell.

For more information on the Red Cross and blood donations, click here:

Categories: Health, Local News, Minnesota News, North Dakota News