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More locals can now donate as UK blood ban lifts

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More locals will now be able to roll up their sleeves and give blood, to help fill 50 available appointments in Bundaberg this week.

People who lived in the United Kingdom during a ‘mad cow disease’ outbreak can now donate blood in Australia.

A ban has been lifted, meaning there are now up to 18,000 additional donors available to make up to 58,000 extra donations each year.

Australian Red Cross Lifeblood executive director of donor services Cath Stone says removing the ban has been a long process.

“It’s taken some time; however, we’re so pleased our comprehensive review of the evidence and our risk modelling has found this rule is no longer required... We’re thrilled to welcome these newly eligible donors to our centres around the nation,” Ms Stone says.

“Our teams are in the process of contacting donors who have previously been unable to donate due to this rule. We’re fortunate to have one of the safest blood supplies in the world, and we’re continuing our focus to make it easier for all Australians to donate, while ensuring our blood supply remains safe for patients”.

Since December 2000, those who had spent a total of six months or more in the UK between 1980 and 1996 were prevented from donating blood.

This was a precautionary measure in response to the UK outbreak of mad cow disease and concerns about the risk of acquiring human variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (vCJD), a fatal disease with an incubation period of many years and no screening test to identify carriers.

The recommendation by Lifeblood to remove the rule was approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration following an in-depth risk assessment.

LifeBlood's media and communications manager for Queensland and Northern Territory Belinda Smetioukh says lifting the ban will allow thousands of donors to help shore-up Australia's blood stocks.

"We're still seeing huge cancellation numbers right across the state and the country, so this is a wonderful time for this to happen and it's been the result of many years of hard work and science."

To book a donation visit lifeblood.com.au, call 13 14 95, or download the free DonateBlood App.

Image: Supplied