blood donation

How Donation Centers Sweat Out The Annual Summer Blood Shortage

Aug 10, 2017
Jake J. Smith / WHYY/The Pulse

Raul Mora's job gets a lot more stressful in the summertime — so, to kick back, he plays third base and pitcher on a baseball team.

"I play with the Sea Dogs," says Mora. "It's a 53-and-over team."

Mora oversees the distribution of blood to 10 hospitals in the Chicago area. He's manufacturing director for the Red Cross Mid-America Region, so he knows exactly when to expect the summer slowdown.

The crowd at a vigil for the victims of the mass shooting at the Pulse nightclub Sunday morning  in Orlando, on the steps of City Hall.
Eric Garcetti via Flickr

A hidebound stigma? A "double tragedy?" US blood donation rules are coming under scrutiny after Sunday's mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando.


FDA Lifts Ban On Blood Donations By Gay And Bisexual Men

Dec 21, 2015

The Food and Drug Administration is relaxing a 32-year-old ban on blood donations from gay and bisexual men.

The FDA announced Monday that it was replacing a lifetime prohibition with a new policy that will allow gay and bisexual men to donate blood, but only if they have not had sexual contact with another man for at least one year.

When James Harrison was 14, he got really sick. One of his lungs had to be removed, and he needed a lot of blood.

"I was in the hospital for three months and I had 100 stitches," he recalls.

After receiving 13 units — almost 2 gallons — of donated blood, Harrison knew right away that he wanted to give back.

"I was always looking forward to donating, right from the operation, because I don't know how many people it took to save my life," he says. "I never met them, didn't know them."

Rules governing who can donate blood in the United States have recently changed. But anyone who spent more than three months in the UK between 1980 and 1996 is still prohibited from donating. That rule is in place to minimize the risk of spreading Mad Cow Disease. Robert Siegel speaks with Dr. Lorna Williamson about how the risk is mitigated in the UK.

On Tuesday, the Food and Drug Administration recommended a change in the discriminatory and unscientific policy that effectively prohibited men who have sex with men from donating blood for life. Those guidelines kept any man who had sex with another man — even just once — since 1977 from donating blood forever.

While gay discrimination has been reduced in so many other areas of life, up until now, there hasn't been enough medical or political will to intervene on the blood ban. That policy perpetuated stigma without improving safety.

The Food and Drug Administration is considering revising a ban on blood donations from men who have had sex with other men.

An FDA advisory committee Tuesday mulled the issues raised by changing the policy, which has been in effect since the early 1980s.

Umbilical Cord Blood, 'Huge Opportunities For Patients'

Jun 30, 2014
Jordi Play/Flickr.com


“It’s been 26 years since the first umbilical cord blood stem cell transplant. Still, 99% of all cord blood is thrown away, and that’s often because it’s not easy to make a donation,” says host Barbara Lewis. 

According to the National Institutes of Health, 150 trials are currently underway testing therapies using stem cells from umbilical cord blood. 

“These are like little fighter cells that can grow into a number of different things and they provide huge opportunities for patients,” says Melinda Caltabiano, the Director of Clinical Services at the New York Blood Center.