Tag Archives: blood

blood1Brian Headshot web

Brian O’Mahony, of The irish Haemophilia Society and (top) irish Blood Transfusion service logo


Brian O’Mahony, CEO of the Irish Haemophilia Society went on RTÉ R1’s Morning Ireland this morning to discuss with presenter Gavin Jennings his reasons for wanting the ban on blood donations from gay people in Ireland to continue.

Jennings :
“You want the ban on gay men donating blood to remain, why?”

O’Mahony: “We believe that any change in, in donor deferral for any category of people should be based on scientific evidence. What we’re saying is that, and, it’s not just gay men by the way who are deferred, people with haemophilia are deferred, their spouses are deferred, UK residents are deferred, blood recipients are deferred, any persons who ever injected drugs, even once, are deferred…”

“Yes but we’re talking about this particular…”

O’Mahony: “Yes, but the same principle applies to all deferrals, if the deferral can be changed based on scientific evidence without increasing the risk to the safety of the blood supply, then it’s acceptable, if the deferral change means an increased risk to the blood supply, it’s not acceptable.”

“What’s the risk?”

“The risk is, there are two main categories of risk, one is the risk from known viruses such as HIV, Hepatitis B or Hepatitis C…”

Jennings: “Are they not screened for?”

“They are screened for, but probably the bigger risk is new infectious agents which, if in they’re in donors, can spread to donors before the agents are actually recognized and before there is a screening test.”

Jennings: “But new infectious agents could come from anybody, so why gay men?”

O’Mahony: “Gay men are one of the categories of people, along with people with haemophilia, along with U.K., residents who are categories of people with higher risk for transfusion-transmitted infections.”

Jennings: “What will be the increase to the risk if ban is lifted, or, more to the point, if the ban is lifted as suggested, with a twelve-month deferral?”

O’Mahony: “What we’re saying is that the Blood Transfusion Service has put forward a number of options to the Minister, a lifetime deferral, a five year deferral, an one year deferral and no deferral. We’re very happy to engage with the Minister and the Department to discuss this and we want the decision to be made based purely on the science.”

Jennings: “Yes, but on the science, what will the risk be increased by if the deferral is, if the ban is lifted or if it’s deferred by twelve months, do you know?”

O’Mahony: “Well, according to the report from the Blood Transfusion Service and the options they give to the Department, if the deferral is removed altogether then you’ll get a doubling of the risk of HIV if it’s five years, if it is one year it doesn’t give you adequate protection against unknown agents and if it’s five years they actually already, they actually state that, a deferral of five years in the past would not have protected people against HIV or Hepatitis C.”

Jennings: : “The UK. has lifted their ban with a twelve-month deferral, no change to risk, Australia the same, no change, Ireland imports blood from countries with more relaxed regimes so, without wishing to put it crudely, the blood of gay men is already in our system, yes?”

O’Mahony: “Well, you know, the fact that Germany, France, Denmark, Norway and the Netherlands have not changed and still maintain a lifetime deferral is actually true, also there was an increased risk in Australia when they actually looked at the figures, there was an increased risk, there was an increased number of HIV-positive donations…”

Jennings: “I’m looking at an Australian study here, no evidence of significantly increased of transmution-transmitted or transfusion-transmitted human immunodeficiency virus infection in Australia subsequent to implementing a twelve-month deferral for men who have had sex with men. The point is this blood is already in our system and…”

O’Mahony: “No if you look at the report from the IBTS in the Department of Health it points out that there have been an increase in the number of HIV-positive donations in Australia…”

Jennings: “We’ve no evidence that the implementation of the twelve-month deferral for men who have sex with men resulted in an increased recipient risk for HIV in Australia. People who aren’t gay men donate blood, who engage in the same sexual practices that you say are a risk worthy of a ban. People who aren’t gay men donate blood and may have shared needles with infected partners, you’re still depending on honest disclosure for donors irrespective of who they are and good screening from blood authorities, why single out gay men, or more to the point sex between two men…”

O’Mahony: “Look, I appreciate the views of Stephen [during an earlier report] and other persons on the programme and I understand that if we could get rid of this deferral there would be a societal benefit but the fact is that donors are deferred, categories of people are deferred because there’s an increased risk of transmution-transmitted infection. Now, I’m absolutely fine with any change once the scientific evidence shows that that doesn’t increase the risk to the blood supply. When we engage with the Minister and the Department on this, if they say if they can show scientifically that this does not increase the risk to the blood supply, we’re happy with that.”

Jennings: “But you don’t know that this, this proposed type of ban will increase the risk do you?”

O’Mahony: “Well, there’s strong evidence that it will…”

Jennings: “Do you have any evidence there is strong evidence that a twelve-month deferral will increase the risk?”

O’Mahony: “There is strong evidence that it may increase the risk, it comes fro the Irish Blood Transfusion Service paper to the Department of Health.

Jennings: “No, they said a lifetime ban may double a risk that’s already small, they don’t give any evidence for what effect a twelve-month deferral ban will have.”

O’Mahony: “They clearly state that a twelve-month deferral would not protect you against any new infectious agent in the blood supply and new infectious agents come along all the time, I’ll remind you that in the last number of years we’ve had Hepatitis E, variant CJD, H1N1, H5N1, SARS, Ebola and XMRV, some of these have been capable of being transmitted by blood, the fact is, it’s not so much HIV we’re worried about, it’s a new infectious agent…”

Jennings: “From all men, not just gay men having sex, yes?”

O’Mahony: “We’re very happy to see a change in deferral if it doesn’t increase a risk in the blood supply, that has to be the only consideration.”

Listen here

Previously: Lift The Gay Blood Ban

James Reilly’s Letter About Gay Blood Doners

James And The Gay Blood Ban



Not you again?

The DUP [health] minister [Edwin Poots} has said his controversial decision – to deny gay men the opportunity to donate blood – is based on two pieces of evidence — a letter from the Minister for Health in the Republic and a document on the issue by the European Department for the Quality of Medicines and Healthcare (EDQMH).
The letter from Dr James Reilly TD (above) sent to Mr Poots at the end of May said that the lifetime ban on gay men donating blood exists in Ireland “is based not only on risk factors for HIV but on other blood borne agents known to be associated with MSM (men who have sex with men) behaviour”.

Belfast Telegraph,. June 20, 2012

Meanwhile, today:

The ban on gay men giving blood in Northern Ireland is irrational, A High Court judge ruled today.
Mr Justice Treacy also held that health minister Edwin Poots breached the ministerial code by failing to take the issue before the Stormont Executive. His verdict in a challenge brought by an unidentified homosexual man represents a major victory for campaigners seeking equal status with the rest of the UK.
Mr Justice Treacy heard claims that the minister has displayed apparent bias which went beyond religious beliefs and into the realms of prejudice.


Ban on gay men giving blood is irrational, NI court rules (irish Times)

Previously: James Reilly’s Letter About Gay Blood Donors

(James Horan/Photocall Ireland)

Thanks Brian

Let visitors to your house know that splatters of any kind are unacceptable. You will not turn the other cheek, you will slice it! What civilized person puts a cup glistening with condensation on a bare wooden table? That’s why we have this set of blood-spattered Dexter coasters. (To put cups on, not to slice people with.) Can you imagine slicing someone open with a dull-edged coaster? That would take a great deal of effort.

$20 for a box of six blood spattered slides from Thinkgeek (currently out of stock, sadly.)