Wales has taken the landmark decision to lift restrictions on LGBT+ people donating blood.
As part of a four-nations agreement, Health Minister Vaughan Gething, has today announced the ending of restrictions, set by SABTO (The UK Advisory Committee on the Safety of Blood, Tissues and Organs) which has seen many LGBT+ people unable to donate blood. The change will come into effect in summer 2021.
The Welsh Blood Service (WBS) will prepare for the lifting of restrictions and make changes to some of the questions blood donors are asked in order to move away from blanket restrictions and to a more personalised assessment of donors which does not take account of their sex, gender or sexual orientation.
Health Minister Vaughan Gething said: “This announcement will put an end to the discrimination many people in the LGBT+ community have faced. So many people have worked so hard to get us to this position. I’m very grateful to them and delighted the Welsh Government has been able to see through this long-standing ambition.
“With the great progress and certainty that our medical experts and systems have brought, we can now remove the barriers that have long been in place and that have meant that some LGBT+ people cannot easily donate blood.
“In the summer of 2021 donation systems will be up and running, which mean our systems are robust, safe and no longer exclusionary.”
First Minister Mark Drakeford said: “This is a momentous announcement, which I very much welcome. Blood donation can change people’s lives and it is only right that everyone who can give blood, should be given the opportunity to help others. This is a great day for the LGBT+ community and a great day for blood donation.”
Commenting on the announcement, Alan Prosser, Director of the Welsh Blood Service said “These changes represent many years of hard work by the FAIR steering group which is a UK wide collaboration of healthcare professionals and academia within which the Welsh Blood Service has played an important role.
“Whilst blood services are not responsible for setting the rules around who can and can’t donate we’re delighted that the work of the group has resulted in the development of a series of new regulations that will enable us to welcome more donors to our clinics.
“There is still work to be done to implement these new regulations but we are delighted these changes have been announced and look forward to welcoming new donors to our clinics in 2021.”