by Marike Carli

As a blood donor, you might have been deferred and advised that you may not donate blood for a specified period. We know this is frustrating, but please understand that deferral periods protect you, our valued blood donor, and the patient receiving your blood. Patient and donor safety will always remain our utmost priority. For those of you who have never donated blood or been deferred, a deferral period is a waiting period applied when a blood donor does not qualify to donate within the specified time due to various reasons, including certain activities or illnesses.

Deferral periods are carefully reviewed on an ongoing basis and compared to national and international policies and standards. During March, we implemented changes to our deferral policies and made changes that may impact your next blood donation date. We hope these changes will result in fewer people being turned away from donating blood and ultimately help secure blood stocks.

Some of the policy changes include reducing the deferral periods after dental procedures, and stricter deferrals were put in place following strokes or transient ischaemic attacks (‘mini strokes’). From now on, insulin-dependent diabetic blood donors can donate blood, provided their blood sugar levels are well controlled, and they do not have any known diabetic complications. In addition, people with pacemakers can also donate blood. However, a confirmation letter is needed from their doctor stating that they are asymptomatic and the device was inserted more than 6 months before the day of donation.

People using intravenous recreational drugs were previously permanently deferred. Due to improved confidence in the testing methodologies used to detect specific viral infections in blood donations, they can now donate after a 3-month deferral. In addition, donors who have undergone a cardiac bypass or stent will be permitted to donate 6 months after the procedure without the previous requirement of a letter from their doctor, provided that they are asymptomatic.

Donors who underwent cosmetic procedures such as Botox, Micro-needling, and laser therapy can now donate immediately after these procedures, provided that the treatment was performed by a registered practitioner using disposable needles.

For more information about the deferral policies, call Dr Caroline Hilton on 021 507 6441 or email