The American Red Cross has announced that it is now accepting blood donations from individuals who spent time in certain European countries between 1980 and 2001. The policy change aligns with new guidance which the Food and Drug Administration began revising in May.

The FDA has now eliminated donor eligibility restrictions on European travel related to variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, believed to be derived from mad cow disease, and includes those who were deferred for travel to France, Ireland, or the United Kingdom.

The new change could impact hundreds of thousands of individuals previously banned from donating blood or platelets, including many in the military and federal service communities who served overseas.

Those previously deferred will need to be reinstated before being able to donate blood. Reinstatement processing began on October 3 and could likely take several months to complete.

To learn more about the FDA’s new guidelines visit or contact the Red Cross Donor and Client Support Center at 866-236-3276 for more information about donor eligibility.