Donating Blood After Travel: Important Guidelines

The Irish Blood Transfusion Service (IBTS) has recently issued an appeal for 2,000 blood donations in the next four weeks. The appeal comes as the supply of specific blood types becomes dangerously low.

Director of Donor Services and Logistics, Paul McKinney, said the aim is to have 7 days supply of each blood group. Currently there are just two days supply of both O- and B-, and just over three days’ supply of O+, the blood type of nearly half the population of Ireland. *

While your willingness to donate is highly appreciated, it’s crucial to be aware of travel-related restrictions that might affect your eligibility.

Travel Restrictions and Blood Donation

Certain regions pose risks due to diseases like malaria, dengue, and Zika virus. Here’s a summary of some key restrictions based on recent travel.

Malaria-Endemic Areas: If you’ve visited areas with a risk of malaria, you must wait 365 days (1 year) after leaving the region before donating blood. This includes countries in sub-Saharan Africa, Southeast Asia, and parts of Central and South America.

Dengue, Chikungunya, and Zika Virus: For regions with these risks, including parts of the Caribbean, South America, and Southeast Asia, the deferral period is generally 90 days.

West Nile Virus: Countries with a West Nile Virus risk, such as certain areas in Europe, may have different deferral periods based on the season and specific region.

Long-term Residence: If you have lived in any malaria-endemic area for a continuous period of six months or more at any time in your life, additional testing and deferral periods may apply.

Why These Restrictions?

These restrictions are in place to ensure the safety of the blood supply. Bloodborne pathogens from these regions can pose serious health risks to recipients. The waiting period allows sufficient time for any potential infections to become detectable through standard screening processes.

How to Check Your Eligibility

Before donating, review the travel deferral guidelines on the IBTS website. You can also contact the IBTS Donor Infoline at 1800 731 137 for personalized advice.

Final Tips for Donors

Check Travel History: Before heading to a donation clinic, ensure your travel history complies with the guidelines.

Health Check: Make sure you are in good health and have no symptoms of colds or other illnesses.

Preparation: Eat well and stay hydrated before your donation.

Your donation can save lives. Please ensure you meet the eligibility criteria to keep the blood supply safe for all recipients.

*Correct as of July 1st.

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