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Indefinite Deferrals

Unfortunately, some people may not be able to donate. Serious health problems, possible exposure to infectious disease(s), or participation in high-risk activities can defer some prospective donors, indefinitely.

*Indefinite Deferral Criteria are subject to change. For more information please call 1 888 2 DONATE (1-888-236-6283).

Common factors for indefinite deferral are:

  1. Geographic Deferrals
  2. Possible Exposure to CJD or vCJD
  3. HIV High Risk Activities
  4. Disease
  5. Diabetes (Insulin Treated)
  6. False Reactive (False Positive) Test Results
  7. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

1. Geographic Deferrals:

People who have lived in certain regions of Africa, who may have been exposed to a new strain of the virus that causes AIDS (HIV-I Group O), are not eligible to donate blood. People who have received a blood transfusion while visiting there or who have had sex with someone that has lived there, are also not permitted to donate blood. This is not based on race or ethnicity but possible exposure to HIV-I Group O. Countries included are: Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Niger and Nigeria.

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2. Possible Exposure to CJD or vCJD:

People are not eligible to donate blood or plasma if they have spent a cumulative total of three months or more in the United Kingdom (U.K.) between January 1980, and December 31, 1996, or if they have spent a cumulative total of three months or more in France between January 1980, and December 31, 1996, or if they have spent a cumulative total of five years or more in Western Europe outside the U.K. or France since 1980. In addition, people will no longer be eligible to donate blood or plasma if they have had a blood transfusion in the U.K., France or Western Europe since 1980. This is owing to the risk of transmission of variant Creutzfeldt Jakob Disease (vCJD) through blood.

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3. HIV High Risk Activities:

There are a number of high-risk activities for acquiring HIV/AIDS that can indefinitely defer people from giving blood. People who have taken money or drugs for sex, since 1977 cannot give blood.

All men who have had sex with another man, even once, since 1977 are indefinitely deferred. This is based on current scientific knowledge and statistical information that shows that men who have had sex with other men are at greater risk for HIV/AIDS infection than other people.

Intravenous use of illegal street drugs/narcotics also constitutes a HIV high risk activity and results in indefinite deferral.

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4. Disease:

For the safety of the donor and for the safety of the patients who receive blood, donations are not taken from people with some medical conditions. For more specific information on disease related deferrals, please contact your local blood donor clinic.

This is by no means a comprehensive list. If you are unsure as to whether you are eligible to give blood or not, please contact your local blood donor clinic.

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5. Diabetes:

If your diabetes is treated with insulin, you are unable to donate blood.

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6. False Reactive (False Positive) Test Results:

Unfortunately, a test result of "false-reactive" or "false positive" is an indefinite deferral at this time. The tests we use to screen blood are highly sensitive and are designed to detect donations with even the smallest levels of infection. However, because the tests are so sensitive, in some cases they react non-specifically with proteins in people's blood and the result comes up "reactive" (positive). When we then confirm the test using a different, more specific assay that has different sensitivity levels, it will not confirm positive, and that is what we refer to as a "false reactive" or "false positive".

Canadian Blood Services is looking at introducing re-entry protocols that would permit us to re-test donors. This process is complex and requires approval of our regulator, Health Canada, but we are beginning to develop the necessary evidence to request such an approval of practice from the Regulator. One of the reasons we believe this is important is precisely because Canadian Blood Services regards every donor lost as a serious loss, and we do not take this lightly.

The circumstances surrounding bone marrow transplants are different than those surrounding blood transfusions. If you are interested, you could register to become a potential bone marrow donor. immediately prior to the bone marrow collection procedure, you would take part in a thorough work-up process, including physical examination and transmissible disease testing.

False Reactive Frequently Asked Questions

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7. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome:

As of the end of April, 2010, Canadian Blood Services will be deferring donors with a medical history of chronic fatigue syndrome. In a report published last fall (2009), it was suggested that there is an association between chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) and the presence of a virus called xenotropic murine leukemia virus-related virus (XMRV).

Although donors with active CFS are significantly unwell and would not be permitted to donate, it is not known what risk having a history of CFS could pose to a blood recipient and as such, Canadian Blood Services will be deferring donors with a history of CFS indefinitely.

Canadian Blood Services takes the safety of the blood supply very seriously. Until XMRV is better understood and more is known about the role the virus plays in CFS and related illnesses we will safeguard the blood supply through this deferral.

For more detailed information on the reported findings related to CFS and XMRV, please follow the link below to Canadian Blood Services’ Transfusion Medicine website.

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