Introduce an individualised risk-based blood donation policy for gay and bi men

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Seven years ago my grandad underwent a major operation and needed a major operation to save his life. He needed 8 pints of blood, but when I went to donate my own I was told that I was not allowed because of my sexuality. Ever since, our campaign, FreedomToDonate ,has been campaigning to change the blood donation policy so it’s based on individual sexual behaviour rather than sexuality.

At the time of the operation, any gay or bi man who’d had sex in the previous 12 months wouldn’t be allowed to donate. This was something I wasn't willing to accept, so I launched an organisation called Freedom to Donate to try and change this. Following years of campaigning, we helped introduce a world-leading blood donation policy for gay and bi men in 2017, reducing the deferral period from twelve months down to three. 

But we want to go further. We are asking the UK Government to scrap the three month deferral period, and to introduce an individualised, risk-based approach to assess sexual behaviour, rather than a simplistic unfair process where people are grouped together on their sexual orientation. We believe this is the best way to ensure that those who want to donate, and can do so safely, are able to.

This is not just about ensuring fairness and equality, but giving people the opportunity to help save their loved ones lives with blood donations. This policy is not only unfair, but short-sighted, when the blood service itself is calling for more male donors. An individualised risk-based policy would not only would allow more people than ever before the ability to donate blood but would unlock the potential of thousands of donors, including gay and bi men, so we too can do something small but incredible.

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