Lifeblood currently can’t take blood or milk donations from people who lived in the UK for six months or more from 1980–1996.
This is related to the fatal variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (*vCJD, the human form of the bovine condition sometimes known as ‘mad cow disease’):
- There is currently no blood test available for vCJD suitable for screening donors.
- vCJD can incubate in someone for many years before they start to show symptoms.
Data shows the peak rate of vCJD was in 2000. In recent years the numbers have dramatically declined with only two cases in the UK since 2010. Despite no transfusion-transmission cases occurring since 1999, governments and blood services have been cautious about removing the blood donation restriction because of uncertainty around how long someone could incubate the disease before they show symptoms.
We have recently prepared a submission proposing a change to this. Our submission is currently being reviewed, and we look forward to having more to say soon.
Please note that vCJD is different to classical Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.
For more information, check out our policy on donating blood if you have lived in the UK.