MILITARY MATTERS: Longtime Ban Lifted, Allowing Millions More Veterans to Donate Blood

Published: Mar. 6, 2023 at 3:30 PM EST
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MONTGOMERY, Al. (WTVM) - A decades-old blood donor ban was recently lifted by the Food and Drug Administration, potentially increasing the nation’s blood supply – by allowing millions more veterans to now donate. It involves those who served certain places in certain years overseas.

One example is Paul Flomer, who himself was involved in an accident that almost ended his life in the 1980s.

“They put 27 units of blood through me before I stabilized. So I’ve always felt like I needed to give blood to give back, you know, all that was given to me,” Flomer said.

Flomer, a Navy veteran in Alabama, couldn’t give blood for more than 20 years because he was stationed in Europe during a deadly mad cow disease outbreak. Now, he’s proud to be able to roll up his sleeve again.

“I found out that I was able to give blood again, and I just went in as quick as I could,” he added.

Sharon Carpenter with LifeSouth Community Blood Centers in Montgomery said, “Anyone in our system that was previously deferred for the travel, we are sending emails as well as text messaging.”

Blood experts like her say they’ve ramped up efforts to recruit previously deferred blood donors.

The FDA lifted its restrictions on U.S. citizens who lived, worked or vacationed in the United Kingdom, France, Ireland or served at military bases in Europe during various periods between 1980 and 2001.

“A lot of military personnel, they understand the importance of donating blood and they want to donate. So we are glad that the FDA lifted this ban,” Carpenter said.

And with more donors eligible to donate, the hope is this change potentially bolsters blood collections, which lagged during the pandemic. One donation can save up to 3 lives. And you can donate every 56 days.