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Ban on gay men donating blood is now under review


Minister for Health Leo Varadkar

Minister for Health Leo Varadkar

Minister for Health Leo Varadkar

A BAN on gay men donating blood is under review by the Irish Blood Transfusion Service.

The Irish Blood Transfusion Service (IBTS) has revealed that the rules for donation are under constant review.

The IBTS said its medical and scientific director has undertaken to provide a report to the Department of Health looking at what's going on around the world.

Health Minister Leo Varadkar has confirmed that a report on the rule is due to be published within the next two months. But he said that whatever decision is taken will be based on scientific facts.

"There is a review under way, and I think they're due to make a report to me some time this month or next month," he said.

As it stands, any man who has had sex with another man is subject to a lifetime ban on donating blood. The measure dates back to the 1980s and was part of an effort to reduce the spread of HIV infection.

However, in recent years a number of countries have removed or reduced the ban.

Meanwhile the IBTS is urging donors to make a special effort to give blood in the run-up to Christmas.

It needs 15,000 donations over the coming weeks to maintain the blood supply.

"Traditionally holiday periods and especially the lead into the Christmas and New Year festivities present significant difficulties in sustaining the blood supply. On any given day 200 patients receive transfusions in Irish hospitals", said operations director Paddy Bowler.


"A steady attendance of 3,000 donors per week is needed for the five week, to January 9. As Christmas Day and New Year's Day both fall on a Thursday, which is our best attendance and collection day this will have a serious impact on our supply.

"To deal with this we are running additional Saturday and Sunday clinics before Christmas, between Christmas and New Year and after New Year's Day to make sure there is blood available for patients over this period," he said.

"The demand for blood is constant. We supply product 365 days a year and will issue blood for transfusion to hospitals on Christmas day, St Stephen's day and New Year's day, so we are urging donors to give a priceless gift this Christmas, the gift of blood," he added.

Over 1,000 people receive transfusions every week in Ireland.

Only 3pc of the Irish population give blood, providing blood for a population of over 4m.

Any individual can give blood as many as every 90 days, according to the IBTS.