Mayo Clinic lifts blood donation restriction based on European travel history

(ABC 6 News) – For anyone who wants to donate blood but can’t because of European travel in the 1980s and 1990s, those restrictions will be a thing of the past, according to an announcement by Mayo Clinic on Wednesday.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) set blood donation eligibility rules in 1999 preventing some people from donating who traveled or lived in the United Kingdom, France or Ireland during a certain set of time after a variant of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, also known as “mad cow disease,” was first reported in the U.K. in 1996.

The FDA has since removed that restriction on donating blood, so people previously impacted by this restriction can now donate blood through Mayo Clinic. The new eligibility requirements took effect Monday, April 3.

Rules around blood donation are constantly changing as new data becomes available to the FDA and Mayo Clinic. “The FDA has been periodically updating these blood donor rules as the rates of this disease [a variant of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease] have dropped worldwide,” said Justin Juskewitch, M.D., Ph.D.

After one deferral, many potential donors assume they will never be able to donate and unfortunately stop checking. Dr. Juskewitch said people who have previously been deferred from donating blood should check to see if their eligibility status has changed.