Did you travel somewhere warm this winter to escape the frigid Minnesota weather? Or are you planning a spring break trip to a tropical destination? If so, there’s good news. Certain travel will no longer affect your eligibility to donate platelets.
New eligibility guidelines for platelet donors who travel short-term to malaria-endemic countries
Per the Food & Drug Administration (FDA), as of February 18, platelet donors no longer have to wait one year to donate after traveling to a malaria-endemic country. This new guideline is for platelet donation only. The Mayo Clinic Blood Donor Program has updated its eligibility guidelines specifically for platelet donors who travel to malaria-endemic countries. It is now acceptable for people to donate platelets as soon as they return from a malaria-endemic country, provided they are symptom-free. People intending to donate whole blood or double red cells are still required to wait one year after travel.
Why are these changes being made?
There is a newer technology available in the blood bank industry that disables disease-causing agents such as the malaria parasite, in platelet products. This FDA-approved technology is highly effective at improving the safety of platelet products. The Mayo Clinic Blood Donor Program is currently using one of these pathogen-reduction technologies called Intercept Blood System. It works by adding a chemical to the platelet products that reacts to UVA light. After exposing the platelet products to UVA light, most viruses, bacteria and parasites become inactive without affecting the platelets.
The Mayo Clinic Blood Donor Program recently became the first organization to receive approval from the FDA to allow donors who travel to malaria-endemic countries to donate platelets sooner.
“We continually review scientific data and medical literature on this topic — always with the best interests of our donors and recipients at the top of our list,” says Justin Kreuter, M.D., medical director of Mayo Clinic’s Blood Donor Program. “There is a constant need for blood products, especially for platelets, which expire after only five days. We are hopeful that with less travel restrictions for platelet donors, we will be able to maintain and grow our platelet donor community.”
What are the top 5 malaria-endemic countries visited by Olmsted County residents in 2018?
- Dominican Republic
Does this new guideline apply to all countries?
This eligibility guideline change for platelet donors does not apply for travel to every country. Travel to some foreign countries may still make platelet donors ineligible due to other diseases common in those countries. Please call the Blood Donor Center at 507-284-4475 for the full list.