Canadian Blood Services seeks to update blood donor eligibility through latest Health Canada submission

Canadian Blood Services’ goal is to ensure the safety and sufficiency of Canada’s blood and plasma supplies while also maximizing participation in Canada’s Lifeline. One way we do this is by regularly reviewing our eligibility criteria against the latest scientific evidence, as well as advancements in technology and testing.

A recent submission to our regulator, Health Canada, proposes changes to several blood donor eligibility criteria areas, for which we have gathered evidence. This regulatory submission includes requests to revise several donor criteria, including eligibility related to Kawasaki disease, pericarditis and kidney conditions. It also seeks to reduce the waiting period for individuals who have accepted money or drugs in exchange for sex.    

We have reviewed the current criterion that prevents anyone who has received money or drugs in exchange for sex even once since 1977, from donating blood or plasma. Current evidence and available testing technology do not support such a policy. We are seeking to shorten the existing deferral, from a lifetime one to a 12-month waiting period. We would aim to implement this change later this year, pending approval from Health Canada.   

If approved, this change would also bring our eligibility criteria into alignment with Héma-Québec’s, as well as with the Canadian Standards Association standards on blood and blood components, which applies a 12-month deferral for persons who have received money or drugs in exchange for sex.  

Canadian Blood Services is committed to continuing to evolve its donor criteria based on scientific evidence and highest patient safety standards, in order to maximize our potential pool of donors and ensure sustainability of our blood supply.    

Donor eligibility criteria is just one aspect of our multi-layered process to achieve the highest level of safety for patients. Canada has one of the safest blood systems in the world. Canadian Blood Services uses a standardized questionnaire to screen potential donors, as well as blood tests for each donation. Layering donor screening with blood testing has been successful to ensure the blood supply in Canada is safe and sustainable. This approach is used by blood systems internationally.   

We continually review and update eligibility criteria when the evidence exists to do so and will continue to take a science-based approach to evolution of more inclusive donor policies.


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