Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Mad cow disease and blood donations

I got some bad news from the American Red Cross.  I volunteered to donate blood for a local blood drive.  During the interview process I was turned away, and basically told thanks, but no thanks.  Until the rules change (if they do) I am banned for life from donating blood.  It turns out that so are my sons and so are my daughters.  I used to be able to give blood and haven't donated blood in many years.  So what happened?

Well it turns out that I served my country in the United States Air Force overseas.  In several countries but apparently living in Germany and residing on a military base(s) during the 1980's makes me and my military dependents ineligible to donate.  Why?

The following is directly from the American Red Cross (ARC) Website concerning eligibility criteria and travel overseas ;
In-Depth Discussion of Variant Creutzfeld-Jacob Disease and Blood Donation
In some parts of the world, cattle can get an infectious, fatal brain disease called Mad Cow Disease. In these same locations, humans have started to get a new disease called variant Creutzfeld-Jacob Disease (vCJD) which is also a fatal brain disease. Scientists believe that vCJD is Mad Cow Disease that has somehow transferred to humans, possibly through the food chain.

There is now evidence from a small number of case reports involving patients and laboratory animal studies that vCJD can be transmitted through transfusion. There is no test for vCJD in humans that could be used to screen blood donors and to protect the blood supply. This means that blood programs must take special precautions to keep vCJD out of the blood supply by avoiding collections from those who have been where this disease is found.

At this time, the American Red Cross donor eligibility rules related to vCJD are as follows:

You are not eligible to donate if:

From January 1, 1980, through December 31, 1996, you spent (visited or lived) a cumulative time of 3 months or more, in the United Kingdom (UK), or
From January 1, 1980, to present, you had a blood transfusion in any country(ies) in the (UK). The UK includes any of the countries listed below.
  • Channel Islands
  • England
  • Falkland Islands
  • Gibraltar
  • Isle of Man
  • Northern Ireland
  • Scotland
  • Wales
You were a member of the of the U.S. military, a civilian military employee, or a dependent of a member of the U.S. military who spent a total time of 6 months on or associated with a military base in any of the following areas during the specified time frames
  • From 1980 through 1990 - Belgium, the Netherlands (Holland), or Germany
  • From 1980 through 1996 - Spain, Portugal, Turkey, Italy or Greece.
You spent (visited or lived) a cumulative time of 5 years or more from January 1, 1980, to present, in any combination of country(ies) in Europe, including
  • in the UK from 1980 through 1996 as listed above
  • on or associated with military bases as described above, and
  • in other countries in Europe as listed below:
    • Albania
    • Austria
    • Belgium
    • Bosnia/Herzegovina
    • Bulgaria
    • Croatia
    • Czech Republic
    • Denmark
    • Finland
    • France
    • Germany
    • Greece
    • Hungary
    • Ireland (Republic of)
    • Italy
    • Kosovo (Federal Republic of Yugoslavia)
    • Liechtenstein
    • Luxembourg
    • Macedonia
    • Montenegro (Federal Republic of Yugoslavia)
    • Netherlands (Holland)
    • Norway
    • Poland
    • Portugal
    • Romania
    • Serbia (Federal Republic of Yugoslavia)
    • Slovak Republic (Slovakia)
    • Slovenia
    • Spain
    • Sweden
    • Switzerland
    • Turkey
    • Yugoslavia (Federal Republic includes Kosovo, Montenegro, and Serbia)
End of American Red Cross link.

I spent over 12 years of my military career overseas and just under 8 years permanently assigned in Germany.  I took my family all over as much of western Europe as we could afford.  I also traveled with my family in 9 of the countries listed.

I realize the ARC is just being cautious, but considering the year span of 1980 to the present, and all the Americans that serve in uniform and as civilians in these countries, the ARC is eliminating (I dunno, maybe millions) a large percentage of possible donors.  There were and are Department of Defense K-12 schools located in these countries for military dependents.  There are most likely thousands of Dod school teachers and administrators past and present that are ineligible to donate blood. 

And now, this month - Mad cow disease discovered in California animal, but food supply declared safe  Are we going to ban the entire state of California from donating blood because of the location where they live?  That seems to be the logic of the ARC, unless I am missing something. 

If there is something besides fear and panic for the ARC ban on all of those who traveled into Europe than what is it?  Are we all human time bombs genetically disposed to go off at sometime in the not so distant future?  If so, then the Social Security solvency problem is solved.  Fire up the crematorium, cause it going to get busy.

I guess I outta let the Department of Motor Vehicles know they should change my organ donor status to NO.  Though to be honest, I haven't heard or read that my organs should not be used.  But if the ARC doesn't want my blood, doesn't that make my internal organs also persona non grata?    Why isn't this news in America instead of who got voted off whatever reality show you are in to?

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