Edinburgh couple Steven and Tyler have a date to donate as today’s eligibility criteria changes mark the start of a new era for blood donation.
Monday 14th June 2021 isn't just a regular donation appointment on a calendar. For married couple, chartered accountant Steven Smillie (35) and veterinary surgeon Tyler McNeil (35), today marks a turning point in LGBT+ history, as Steven and Tyler give their blood donations. Their hope is that the changes to donation criteria will result in many previously ineligible donors being able to roll up their sleeves and give their gift of a blood donation.
I am glad that the changes in the blood donation criteria will enable me to donate for the first time in my life
Tyler, new donor
'I am looking forward to giving blood for the first time in 17 years. It is right in a fair and equal society that the ability to give blood should based on an individual's behaviours and not the gender of their partner. I'm grateful for the efforts of campaigners, academics and clinicians who have enabled this change.'
'I'm aware from my work with animals how donated blood can save lives, and I am glad the changes in the blood donation criteria will enable me to give blood for the first time in my life.'
The changes, which come into effect across England and Wales as well as Scotland, mean that UK blood services will now assess donor eligibility on a person-by-person basis instead of applying across-the-board restrictions. From today, the Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service will ask all donors the same questions about their recent sexual activity to ensure blood safety. This will allow previously excluded potential donors (including low-risk sexually active gay men) to give blood.
It is right in a fair and equal society that the ability to donate blood should based on an individual’s behaviours and not the gender of their partner
Returning donor Steven
These changes follow an evidence-based review by the UK-wide FAIR (For the Assessment of Individualised Risk) steering group. FAIR was set up at the request of the Department of Health and Social Care. The steering group included representatives from the four UK blood services, LGBT+ groups, medical and scientific experts, and patient and donor representatives. FAIR concluded that the new donor selection system will maintain the UK’s status as having one of the safest blood supplies in the world.