AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — Thanks to new guidelines from the FDA, Coffee Memorial Blood Center hopes to welcome back thousands of deferred blood donors who have been unable to donate blood for the last 20 years.

Previously, potential blood donors who had spent time in Europe, including many military families stationed abroad, were deferred from donating blood because of the theoretical risk of variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD), commonly known as “mad cow disease,” which is a rare disease of the central nervous system.

Based on updated evidence, the FDA’s new guidance removes the deferral recommendations associated with risk of vCJD for time spent in the United Kingdom from 1980-1996; time spent in France and Ireland from 1980-2001; and receipt of a blood transfusion in the U.K., France or Ireland from 1980-present.

In 2020, the FDA removed several other European countries from the deferral list. These new changes remove the remaining countries, effectively lifting the entire deferral.

Those unsure if this eligibility guidance affects them are encouraged to call the eligibility hotline at 888-308-3924.

“We are grateful to see the FDA use the latest scientific data to adjust deferral rules, allowing us to welcome back many donors, and invite in countless others who have not attempted to donate due to the restrictions,” said John Armitage, M.D., president and CEO of Coffee Memorial Blood Center. “This move will help expand our donor pool, as there is an ongoing need for blood donation, especially during the summer months.”

Coffee Memorial asks the community to respond by giving blood* today. Appointments to donate can be made online at yourbloodinstitute.org or calling 806-331-8833. Walk-ins are welcome. Blood donation typically takes only about an hour, and one donation saves up to three lives.

Coffee Memorial Blood Center is part of the sixth-largest independent blood center in the nation, providing blood to all major hospitals in the High Plains region.

*16-year-old donors must weigh at least 125 pounds and provide signed parental permission; 17-year-old donors must weigh at least 125 pounds; 18+year-old donors must weigh at least 110 pounds. Photo ID required.