BBD will introduce a new donor screening process on Monday, October 2, based on Individual Donor Assessment (IDA), not sexual or gender identity.

This comes at an important time as the region is currently experiencing a blood emergency with dangerously low levels of O+ and O- , B-, and platelets.

DELAWARE — Blood Bank of Delmarva (BBD) announced a blood emergency following a summer of low donor turnout, but recent FDA changes in donor eligibility may help. Contributing to the shortage are the recent Labor Day holiday, back-to-school activities, and a prolonged 50% decrease in youth and first-time donors.  The region’s blood supply is well below the optimal 5-7 days and while all blood types are needed, types O+, O-, B-, and platelets are critically low.  And our community is not alone, blood shortages are happening across the country, with multiple centers urgently calling for blood donations.   

Amid this blood emergency, BBD will soon be able to welcome new donors. On Monday, October 2nd, it will implement the new donor screen process that will focus 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.  Interested individuals can find detailed information regarding these changes at Individual Donor Assessment (IDA) – Blood Bank of Delmarva (BBD) (

In preparation for this change, BBD has completed the adoption of the donor history questionnaire, updated and validated computer systems regulated by the FDA, trained staff, and updated operational procedures.

“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 look forward to welcoming these new donors to our centers and blood drives, especially following a tough summer with low donor turnout.”

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 the current 3-month deferral.

The change is 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 reflects the scientific data gathered as part of the ADVANCE Study.

About Blood Bank of Delmarva

Blood Bank of Delmarva (BBD) is a nonprofit, community blood bank with a simple mission: saving lives. BBD achieves its mission every day by providing safe blood and blood products to all 19 hospitals in Delmarva and relies on over 80,000 volunteer blood donors each year to ensure patient needs are met. BBD distributes over 130,000 blood products annually and operates four donor centers. Each year, BBD normally hosts over 600 blood drives that would not be possible without the commitment of community organizations that volunteer to serve as sponsors or coordinators, providing opportunities for blood donors to donate and help patients in need. BBD is a Division of New York Blood Center, Inc. (a family of operating Divisions known as New York Blood Center Enterprises) and a member of AABB and ABC. For more information, visit Connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.