Supreme Health Council advises against senior citizens donating blood

Despite increasing shortages of blood for specific blood groups, Belgium's Supreme Health Council now advises against taking blood donations from people over 65. "The safety of the blood transfusion chain must always remain the highest priority", the advisory body of the Federal Public Service (FPS) for Health, Food Chain Safety and Environment said on Wednesday.

Today, persons aged between 60 and 66 who have never donated blood before are allowed to donate blood only after a positive assessment by a doctor at the collection point. Specific criteria have been laid down for this purpose. This procedure aligns with the 2009 recommendations of the Supreme Health Council for so-called "new senior donors". Those aged 66 and over who have already donated blood once may continue to do so if that person has medical approval and last donated blood less than three years ago.

At the request of Health minister Frank Vandenbroucke, the Council re-examined current scientific data to see if the maximum age for a first blood donation could be raised. Based on its latest research, the advisory body now advises against regular blood donation for those aged 66 or over.

The Council stresses "that being allowed to donate blood is not a right".

In new blood donors over 65, the Council is more likely to see moderate to severe reactions, such as fainting or convulsions. "Such an event can leave a deep impression on the donor, the collection staff and other donors present, which could make them hesitate to return. Moreover, in elderly people, recovery sometimes takes longer", the Health Council concludes. In addition, the Council fears there may be risks for the recipients of such transfusions.

Furthermore, the advisory body concludes that possible health problems in those who receive blood from so-called "regular senior donors" should be better documented. The Council stresses "that being allowed to donate blood is not a right".




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