Donors of blood, plasma and platelets may now continue to give blood after the age of 71 years following the scrapping of the maximum age, Health Minister Maggie De Block announced on Tuesday. Each year blood banks are low, and the Belgian Red Cross has to run awareness campaigns to attract new donors. Under the previous regulations, prospective donors must have made a first donation before their 66th year and could continue up to the eve of their 71st birthday.
Without the adaptation of the rules, Belgian would have lost about 8,000 donors over the next five years, according to the Health Minister, who noted that “there is no scientific basis to maintain” this age limit.
Anyone may now continue to donate blood after the age of 71 years on condition that they made a first donation before the age of 66 and their previous one was no more than three years ago. Red Cross doctors will determine whether the prospective donors are fit to donate blood.
“We now expect to receive at least 15,000 more donors each year,” said Dr. Ivan de Bouyalsky, head of the Belgian Red Cross. “These are often very loyal donors, who give blood many times a year.”
The maximum age limit had already been raised from 66 to 71 in 2011. That measure had enabled the Red Cross to obtain an additional 20,000 donations annually.