Canada doesn't want my blood

Despite being a blood donor in the UK for many years, Canada doesn’t want my blood.

In 1999 Canada decided not to accept blood from potential donors that had spent more more than 3 months in the UK since 1980 due to the unproven possibility of variant CJD being transmitted through donations. This precautionary approach was also applied to France and other Western European countries.

The blanket ban on Western European blood has been reviewed and renewed several times since the original decision was made and in 2004 a statement was made after a second possible transmission of vCJD was reported in the UK. [It seems that there has been at least 4 possible cases of transmission through transfusion up to 2008]

The Canadian Blood Services current information is that no donations are accepted from people meeting the criteria on their indefinite deferrals list.

Since 1997, the Public Health Agency of Canada has reported some 971 referrals for suspected vCJD with the UK reporting 2500 referrals since 1990 (which would include the transmission through transfusion cases). The figures do not seem to me to be significantly higher, especially when one considers the UK population is almost twice that of Canada.

So, I can understand why the precautionary principle has been adopted but it still leaves me feeling annoyed that despite what appears to be a very, very small risk, the blanket ban remains and I cannot give blood. Obviously I would not want anyone to be infected with vCJD, but I wonder what the odds of being infected with vCJD are next to, for example, being involved in a car crash?


  1. Tales From A Bar Stool
    August 16, 2009

    I also have this problem. My family lived in the UK from 1987 to 1988, just two years and I’m still not allowed to give blood. I wish I were able to help those in need…

  2. Michelle
    July 13, 2010

    I guess they won’t want my Irish Blood either then because I was in Uk for 3 years in total from 2000. I don’t normally donate blood but I am sure I am good for it 🙂

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