French olim may now donate blood without restriction
After studies found prevalence of mad-cow's disease is negligible in France, MDA changed its regulations, allowing all French olim to donate blood.
By JUDY SIEGEL-ITZKOVICH
After epidemiological studies in Europe found that the prevalence of Creutzfeldt-Jakob (mad-cow's) disease is negligible in France, Magen David Adom has changed its regulations to allow anyone who lived in France from 1980 to become a blood donor in Israel.
Those who lived in England, Ireland and Portugal for a decade after 1980, when the infectious disease was discovered, may still not, however, donate blood here or in Europe.
MDA blood services director Prof. Eilat Shinar told The Jerusalem Post that the prevalence of the infectious disease, which can be transmitted by blood, is around 600 per million in England and between 17 and 20 per million in Ireland and Portugal, but only 1.7 per million in France and thus too small to be a risk factor. For this reason, the European authorities and subsequently MDA (with Health Ministry approval) decided to liberalize the policy for French immigrants and tourists.
In addition, people who received a blood transfusion, lived with a patient who had hepatitis B or C, had a tattoo done or underwent an endoscopic examination including a biopsy of the stomach or small intestine can give half a year after this event rather than only a year later (reuse of endoscopes used for biopsy theoretically can transmit such a viral infection if not thoroughly sterilized).
Anyone who was bitten by an unidentified and untested animal can donate blood two months after the bite instead of after 12 months as in the past.
Although those born in Israel of Ethiopian parentage have been able to donate blood without restriction, Shinar welcomed their donation now, given the fact that hundreds were born here in the early 1990s and are old enough to donate blood.
MDA says that there is still a shortage of blood donors due to the holidays and asked all healthy people to come and donate. Call (03) 530-0400 for information or go to the organization's Web site at www.mdais.org. Group donations of over 20 people can be arranged at workplaces by calling (03) 530-0402.
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