Canadian Blood Services reduces restrictions for blood donation

(OTTAWA) – Thousands more people may now be eligible to donate blood thanks to recent changes to a number of Canadian Blood Services’ deferral policies and donor restrictions. The changes are an important step being taken to broaden the pool of eligible donors in the country. This year alone, about 100,000 new blood donors are needed to support the national blood supply.

The following notable changes are now in effect across the country:

  • The upper age limit for donating has been eliminated. Further, donors over the age of 71 no longer need to have their physician fill out an assessment form before donating blood.
  • Donors who have a history of most cancers (such as breast cancer, thyroid cancer, and prostate cancer) will now be eligible to donate if they have been cancer free for five years. This change does not apply to those with a history of hematological cancers (such as lymphomas and leukemia).
  • Donors who have recently received most vaccines, such as a flu shot, will no longer need to wait two days before donating blood.
  • Donors who were born in or lived in some African countries (Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Niger, and Nigeria) are now eligible to donate blood. HIV testing performed on blood donors can now detect HIV strains found in these countries. 
  • Geographic deferrals affecting Western Europe have been revised based on scientific evidence that indicates the risk of variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (vCJD), or mad cow disease, has decreased since January 2008. Donors who spent five years or more in Western Europe since 1980 are deferred from donating blood, but we are now including an end date of 2007. Donors who reached the five year limit in Western Europe after 2007 will now be eligible to donate blood.

“Canadian Blood Services regularly reviews the criteria used to determine if someone is eligible to donate blood, including geographic and age restrictions based on new scientific information,” says Dr. Mindy Goldman, medical director of donor and clinical services with Canadian Blood Services. “These restrictions are no longer necessary. We estimate that about 3,000 people who try to donate each year but cannot will now be eligible to donate due to these changes.”

Canadian patients routinely count on fellow Canadians to roll up their sleeves and do their part to help meet the demand for blood. Canadian Blood Services hopes that these changes will contribute to bringing more donors to clinics, enabling more Canadians to save lives.

The complete policy changes are available at

Donors who were turned away in the past due to the former restrictions but would like to return are invited to visit a clinic or call 1-888-2DONATE to book an appointment. Canadian Blood Services is currently updating its digital systems and online bookings are temporarily unavailable for some of these donors. New donors who have never been screened before are invited to book an appointment online, call 1-888-2DONATE, or visit a clinic.

Canadians can visit or download the GiveBlood app to discover multiple ways they can give life, assess their eligibility and to book an appointment.