A landmark change to the blood donation rules will reduce the barriers gay and bisexual men face while applying to give blood.
The changes to the rules came into force on Monday, June 14 – which is also World Blood Donor Day.
All donors, regardless of gender, will now be asked a new set of questions about sexual behaviours before giving blood, focused mainly on the last three months – meaning more people from LGBT communities will be eligible to donate.
In the past, men who are in sexual relationships with other men have had to go three months without sexual activity before being able to donate blood in Wales.
These changes have been introduced following recommendations made by the FAIR (For the Assessment of Individualised Risk) steering group.
The group includes representatives from blood services from across the UK, medical and scientific experts and LGBT groups, as well as a selection of patients and donors.
The changes have come into force in Wales, England, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
Married couple Carl and Martin, from Newbridge, both donated blood on Monday morning following the historic rule change.
Carl said he was “thrilled” with the change and added: “I’m grateful for the efforts of campaigners, academics and clinicians who have made this happen.
“It is only fair in today’s society that everyone’s behaviours should be treated the same and not by the gender of their partner”.
Meanwhile, Martin said: “Today is a very special day for Carl and I.
“Together we can now make potentially lifesaving donations to help patients in need.”
He added: “My father had numerous blood transfusions and I am forever grateful to those donors for their support. My niece also received many blood transfusions during her treatment for leukaemia. She is now thankfully in full remission and I am absolutely delighted to potentially help someone like her recover from such a serious illness.”
The Welsh Blood Service has said it needs around 350 blood donations each day to maintain a steady supply.
Welsh Blood Service Director, Alan Prosser said: “We are thrilled to mark World Blood Donor Day by welcoming more people into our lifesaving team of blood and platelet donors.
“Whilst blood services are not responsible for setting the rules around donation, we are delighted that our work in collaboration with the FAIR steering group has led to the new regulations.”
Zoe Gibson, the Head of Nursing at the Welsh Blood Service, said: “Patient safety is at the heart of everything we do. All donations are tested for significant infections before they are sent to hospitals to maintain the safety of the blood supply chain.
“All donors will now be asked about recent sexual behaviours which might have increased their risk of acquiring an infection. This means that some donors might not be eligible on the day but may be eligible to donate in the future.”
The changes were also welcomed by First Minister Mark Drakeford and Health Minister Eluned Morgan.
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Upcoming blood donation sessions in Caerphilly County Borough
- Tuesday, June 22
- Wednesday, June 23
- Monday, July 12
Pontllanfraith Leisure Centre
- Tuesday, June 15
- Tuesday, June 29
- Monday, July 26
- Tuesday, July 27
To book a blood donation session, visit wbs.wales/CaerObservJ
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