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ASH Statement on FDA's Updated Blood Donor Eligibility Guidelines

ASH supports steps to strengthen the national blood supply to help individuals with hematologic conditions affected by critical shortage during COVID-19 and beyond

(WASHINGTON, April 3, 2020) — Yesterday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced updated guidance to expand blood donor eligibility guidelines to address the pressing need for blood donations, which have been limited by the COVID-19 outbreak. The American Society of Hematology (ASH) is supportive of the FDA taking steps to address the significant challenges to maintaining the national blood supply and to further encourage donations during this critical period from all healthy people.

Maintaining a safe and sufficient blood supply is vital to supporting public health. ASH is especially concerned with ensuring an adequate supply of safe blood and blood products for individuals with hematologic conditions, including individuals with blood cancers, hemophilia, and sickle cell disease (SCD) for whom transfusions can prevent complications and be lifesaving.

ASH continues to support and promote efforts by blood banks and centers to encourage blood donations and reminds the public that enhanced donor safety precautions have been used since the pandemic started. The Society also recently issued a joint letter with the Sickle Cell Disease Association of America (SCDAA) offering guidance to providers who care for individuals with SCD to help conserve red cell units during the blood shortage and highlighting the importance of minority donation and recruitment.

“We appreciate the FDA’s efforts to accelerate its plans to expand the pool of healthy blood donors at this urgent time when blood donations have decreased,” said ASH President Stephanie Lee, MD, of Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. “It’s important for the public to realize that these changes were already being developed prior to COVID-19 based on evidence that blood donated by these individuals is safe. COVID-19 simply accelerated the updated regulations because of the need to allow every healthy and willing person to donate. We look forward to continuing to partner with the FDA, blood organizations, and others to overcome the challenges of COVID-19, maintain a strong and safe blood supply, and promote judicious use of blood products while maintaining patient safety.”

The American Society of Hematology (ASH) (www.hematology.org) is the world’s largest professional society of hematologists dedicated to furthering the understanding, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of disorders affecting the blood. For more than 60 years, the Society has led the development of hematology as a discipline by promoting research, patient care, education, training, and advocacy in hematology. ASH publishes Blood (www.bloodjournal.org), the most cited peer-reviewed publication in the field, and Blood Advances (www.bloodadvances.org), an online, peer-reviewed open-access journal.

Leah Enser, American Society of Hematology
[email protected]; 202-552-4927