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DoD Delays New Blood Donor Deferral Rules

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 14, 2001 – Revamped blood donor rules that were to take effect today have been postponed to Oct. 29, a DoD health official said.

The delay stems from the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in New York City and Washington, said Army Col. Michael Fitzpatrick, director of the Armed Services Blood Program Office in Falls Church, Va.

"Blood collection during the crisis took precedence over the final steps necessary to meet Food and Drug Administration requirements for administering the new standards," he explained. The new rules were developed to address the incidence of so-called mad cow disease in Europe, Fitzpatrick said.

During the next few weeks donor centers will process and document the units given by DoD personnel and their families in response to the attacks, he added.

Fitzpatrick thanked service members, civilians and family members for responding generously by giving blood during the crisis. He noted that current DoD blood supplies are adequate, "But we encourage you to schedule a donation in the future."

The Defense Department currently bans blood donations from people if they lived in the United Kingdom between 1980 and 1996 for a cumulative total of six months or more. This rule stays in force.

The new blood donor restrictions would have indefinitely barred any person who, from 1980 through the end of 1996, traveled or lived in the United Kingdom for a cumulative total of three months or more, or who traveled or lived anywhere in Europe for a cumulative total of six months or more; or who received a blood transfusion in the United Kingdom at any time since 1980.

Fitzpatrick said service members, civilians and their families living in countries such as Germany are at low risk of contracting mad cow disease.


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