22 November 2021

Media Release: A golden chance to save lives- NZBS eligibility changes

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Retirement is about doing things you never had time for – and thanks to a change in donor eligibility criteria, blood and plasma donations can now continue into your golden years. 

New Zealand Blood Service (NZBS) is pleased to announce the upper age limit for both first-time blood or plasma donors has been increased to 71, while existing donors may now be eligible to continue donating until the age of 81. 
It is expected that more than 300 donors may benefit from this change.
“NZBS regularly reviews its eligibility criteria based on scientific evidence and international best practice,” says Asuka Burge, National Marketing and Communications Manager at NZBS. “We are thrilled to extend the age criteria for both new and existing donors, so age is no longer a barrier to donation for eligible, fit and healthy donors. 
“We know there will be plenty of donors who will be delighted to hear this news and encourage anyone who thought they might be too old to donate for the first time to consider giving lifesaving blood or plasma.”
The changes – which are among several implemented following NZBS’s review of its donor eligibility rules – take effect from Monday November 22. 
Under the revised age criteria: 

  • Eligible individuals, aged between 16 and 71, can make their first donation of blood and plasma.
  • Donors, who have donated within the last two years, can donate until they turn 75. These donors may also be eligible to continue donating until the age of 81, subject to NZBS Medical Officer authorisation. 

Lapsed donors, whose last donation was more than two years ago, may be eligible to donate after they turn 71, subject to approval by NZBS Medical Officer. 
Other changes to donor eligibility criteria includes changes to some of the stand down periods donors must observe before they can give blood and plasma if they have certain medical conditions or have undergone a medical procedure. And if a person has recently had a tattoo or body piercing, the stand down period has been reduced to three months. 
“We strongly encourage everyone to review the new criteria, especially if you are a donor over 71 recently,” continues Ms Burge.
“It may be that you can continue donating blood or plasma. Please get in touch and speak with one of our team to see if this is possible.”
More information about the donor eligibility changes can be found here.
These changes are informed by scientific evidence and international best practice, and were submitted to Medsafe for approval before being implemented. 
The screening of blood donors is a vital step in maintaining the safety and wellbeing of donors and protecting recipients of blood and blood products.