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FDA Clarifies Gay Blood Ban Issue in Orlando

BLOOD BAN

There were reports after the Orlando mass shooting that killed dozens of patrons of an LGBT nightclub that the Food and Drug Administration had temporarily suspended their policy around gay and bi men and trans women donating blood (which currently bans donations from any of those groups if they have been sexually active within the last year). Anonymous sources as a local trauma ward and a blood bank told Plus over the weekend they were taking any blood donations, regardless of sexual orientation and local lesbian politician Patty Sheehan told reporters the ban was suspended. 

But after a weekend of silence, the FDA has responded to queries with this clarification from Tara Goodin:

"We at the FDA send our deepest sympathy to all of the relatives and friends of those individuals killed or injured in the tragic occurrence in Orlando, Florida. The Interorganizational Disaster Task Force, which addresses the need for blood during emergencies such as this one, met on Sunday, June 12, and has ensured that all immediate needs for blood have been met. The FDA understands that many individuals would like to donate blood to help out at this time. We recommend that individuals wishing to donate call to schedule appointments at their local blood collection establishments, as this will help replenish the blood supply in an organized manner, without overwhelming the system.

At this time there is an adequate supply of blood to meet the need, and the scientific evidence is not available to support an alternative to the current deferral policy.  We empathize with those who might wish to donate, but reiterate that at this time no one who needs blood is doing without it. That being said, the FDA is committed to continuing to reevaluate its blood donor deferral policies as new scientific information becomes available. 

The FDA has also implemented a nationally representative safety monitoring system for the blood supply with assistance from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute at the National Institutes of Health. This system will provide critical information to help inform future actions that FDA may take on blood donor policies. Moving forward, the FDA will continue to reevaluate and update its blood donor deferral policies as new scientific information becomes available."

Commissioner Sheehan also responded to Plus via Facebook writing that "there was a lot of misinformation flying around" about the blood donor policy, and that any suspension that the FDA may have considered was "rescinded" due to the amount of blood donations that came in from the local community. Indeed, many blood banks were overwhelmed by the number of donors, and some reported eight-hour wait times to donate.

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