Stanford Blood Center Statement Regarding San Jose State University's Decision to Suspend Blood Drives
Attention News Desk: Press Release (for immediate release)
Michele Hyndman (650) 723-8237
STANFORD, Calif. — Stanford Blood Center is deeply disappointed in San Jose State University President Don Kassing’s decision to suspend blood drives on campus out of a concern that a federal policy regarding blood donor eligibility is discriminatory. This is a terribly misguided tactic that could have a devastating impact on the blood supply and, therefore, patients in our community.
We agree that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s lifetime ban on donations from men who have sex with men is overly restrictive. Stanford Blood Center has long advocated the recommendations from the AABB (formerly known as the American Association of Blood Banks), America’s Blood Centers and the American Red Cross that the FDA change the current deferral for these men to only a one-year, rather than a lifetime, deferral. This would provide a temporary deferral similar to those for other HIV risk factors.
Stanford Blood Center has offered to work collaboratively with SJSU to lobby the FDA and our U.S. congressional representatives to change the policy. We collect hundreds of units of blood each year from SJSU and, overall, 20 percent of our blood collection comes from high school and college students. While we’re pleased that President Kassing has agreed to encourage blood donations off-campus, we believe the suspension of blood drives will adversely impact the number of donations made. Convenience is a major factor in busy students’ willingness to donate blood. Student participation provides a platform from which many people become lifetime blood donors.
The blood center’s mission is to provide a safe and adequate blood supply to the local hospitals we serve. The FDA and AABB set criteria for blood donor eligibility that must be used by all U.S. blood centers to screen potential donors. The intent of these standards is to maximize the safety of the blood supply; the standards are not intended to send a message to any individual.
Stanford Blood Center sympathizes with those who disagree with the current deferral policy regarding men who have sex with men. However, it is not appropriate to withhold life-saving blood donations while taking on a national health policy issue. Individuals and institutions that would like to lobby for change are urged to do so by contacting the FDA and their U.S. congressional representatives, not by jeopardizing their community’s local blood supply and putting patients’ lives at risk.
There is no substitute for blood, and every day we rely on volunteer blood donors to give the gift of life. We urge eligible people to continue to donate blood so that we can continue to serve patients whose lives depend on it. People interested in donating blood can call (650) 723-7831 or toll-free (888) 723-7831 or visit http://bloodcenter.stanford.edu for more information or to make an appointment.
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Stanford University Medical Center integrates research, medical education and patient care at its three institutions - Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford Hospital & Clinics and Lucile Packard Children's Hospital at Stanford. For more information, please visit the Web site of the medical center's Office of Communication & Public Affairs at http://mednews.stanford.edu.