FDA working to increase blood donor eligibility amid nationwide blood crisis

Blood being donated at the Hillcrest Community Center
Blood being donated at the Hillcrest Community Center(WIBW)
Published: Feb. 13, 2022 at 9:53 PM CST
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Local blood banks now only have half a days’ worth of blood supply on the shelves when they normally have at least five days worth.

“This is the first time in history that we ever have had to issue a blood crisis,” Red Cross Spokesperson Annette Rowland said. “It is scary.”

Alabama’s blood supply is critically low and Rowland said they are seeing a lot of no show and canceled appointments from donors.

“With having a half day supply, hospitals are having to make difficult choices because that inventory just isn’t there,” she said.

Rowland said they need more than 300 donations a day across the state to refill supply to where it was at, but there’s a lot of criteria to donate and not many people qualify.

“If you are a very petite person and you don’t meet the weight requirements, you can be deferred,” Rowland said. “A certain medication that you are on, you can be deferred.”

But even though the pool of eligible donors is already small, and supply is lower than ever, Rowland said they cant just change the rules to bring in more donors. It is all up to the FDA.

“We can work with them,” Rowland said. “We can suggest changes to be made, but we cant just implement our own changes. We cannot go through with something without approval from the FDA.”

But, she said changes to the rules may be coming soon.

“They are looking at all of the groups of people that they have deemed ineligible and they are doing some studies,” Rowland said. “Hopefully, that will open up that soon.”

While some of the eligibility rules may make it more difficult for the donor, Rowland said it is more important for the person receiving it.

“You want to be confident that the blood that is coming into your body is good,” she said. “You don’t want to go in with one problem and come back out with another one.”

Click here for the donor eligibility list. Click here to sign up to donate.

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