The FDA recently announced an updated blood donor screening process that is based on individual donor assessment, not sexual orientation or gender identity

DELAWARE – The Blood Bank of Delmarva (BBD) today announced that it will be holding blood drives this month in celebration of the recent FDA guidance establishing a blood donor screening process based on individual donor assessment, not sexual or gender identity. The first will be with local nonprofit CAMP Rehoboth in Sussex County, followed by two blood drives at the University of Delaware in New Castle County.

In early October, BBD implemented the new donor screen process that focuses on individual donor assessment. This comes following the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) final guidance establishing a blood donor screening process based on Individual Donor Assessment, not sexual or gender identity for that matter.

“For decades, we have strongly advocated for scientifically-based changes to the FDA policies regarding gay and bisexual men and this recent decision by the FDA is a huge step toward making blood donation more inclusive,” said BBD Vice President Emily Cunningham. “We welcome these new donors to our centers and blood drives.”

CAMP Rehoboth is a nonprofit dedicated to creating safe communities where gender identity and sexual orientation are respected. The CAMP Rehoboth Blood Drive is scheduled for 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, November 11 (Veterans Day). Click here to book an appointment, or call 1-888-8-BLOOD-8. All donors will receive BBD’s “We all bleed the same” T-shirt.

“CAMP Rehoboth is excited to partner with the Blood Bank of Delmarva for this blood drive not only to celebrate the ability for donors of all sexual orientations to be able to give blood, but also to respond to the urgent need for blood in the community,” said Matty Brown, Communications Manager at CAMP Rehoboth. “This initiative follows in the founding vision of CAMP Rehoboth, which is neighbors helping each other in times of need.”

Delaware Lt. Governor Bethany Hall-Long, Ph.D, RN and chair of the Delaware Behavioral Health Consortium, expressed her support for this inclusive blood drive.

“As a nurse, I’ve seen firsthand how donating blood literally saves lives. We can all do our part to give back, and I can think of no better way than to be involved with this blood drive,” Lt. Gov. Hall-Long said. “I commend CAMP Rehoboth and the Blood Bank of Delmarva for their determination and commitment to raising awareness, educating the public, and fighting for equity. When we have equity in our health systems, that’s how we ensure services are sensitive and responsive, relevant, and meet the needs so no one is left behind.”

In furthering the celebration of the recent FDA changes, the University of Delaware blood drives are scheduled for 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on both Wednesday, November 15 and Thursday, November 16 at the Trabant Student Center. Click here to book for day one, or click here for day 2. You may also call the number listed above. UD donors will receive free ice cream from the UD Creamery, BBD’s “We all bleed the same” T-shirt, and a chance to win a $100 gift card from Klondike Kate’s!

Leslie Allshouse, Medical Laboratory Science Program Director and Vice Chair in the Department of Medical & Molecular Sciences at the University of Delaware, is a lifetime blood donor. She has family members and friends who have benefited from the availability of blood products for surgery and trauma situations.

“I am very enthusiastic about the new Individual Donor Assessment,” Allshouse said. “This promotes equity, inclusion and safety for the blood donation process that is so important for patients and donors alike and will hopefully help to ease the critical national blood shortage.  My career has been centered around transfusion medicine which has changed significantly over time, and it is so exciting to see the University of Delaware student groups, volunteers and blood donors come together for this timely blood drive celebrating change and preparing for the upcoming holiday season.  Go Blue Hens and Blood Bank of Delmarva!”

All U.S. blood centers are regulated by the FDA and must adhere to their donor eligibility policies. In 1983, the FDA instituted a lifetime deferral on blood donations for gay and bisexual men in order to reduce the chance of HIV in the blood supply at a time when testing was limited or non-existent. In 2015, the FDA revised this policy and moved to a 12-month deferral for men who have sex with men in response to comprehensive testing capabilities and data demonstrating safety in shortened deferral. This policy was revised again in 2020 to a 3-month deferral.

The most recent changes are based on data from the “Assessing Donor Variability And New Concepts in Eligibility” (ADVANCE) Study, which sought to determine if different eligibility criteria could be used focusing on each donor’s individual risk behavior rather than their sexual orientation. The updated criteria reflect the scientific data gathered as part of the ADVANCE Study.

Interested individuals can find detailed information regarding these changes here.