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New Zealand Blood Service lifts 'mad cow' (vCJD) restriction

Hands holding image of drop of blood

Have you been unable to donate blood due to 'mad cow' disease? Restrictions are lifting.


From Thursday 29 February 2024, people who lived in the United Kingdom, France or Republic of Ireland between 1980 and 1996 for 6 months or more during the ‘mad cow' disease outbreak will finally be able to book to donate blood or plasma in Aotearoa New Zealand.

The restriction was implemented in 2000. It was a precautionary measure related to the risk of passing on human variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (vCJD) via blood or plasma transfusions.

The recommendation from the New Zealand Blood Service (NZBS) to lift the restriction was approved by Medsafe following a review and detailed risk assessment.

NZBS’ clinical team worked with epidemiology and infectious disease experts at the University of New South Wales Kirby Institute for more than a year to research the risk of vCJD among New Zealand’s blood donor population.

That work showed the risk was negligible and that removing the restriction would not comprise the safety of blood and blood products in New Zealand.

If you were unable to donate blood due to the restriction you'll be able to book an appointment to donate from Thursday 29 February 2024. You can check that you're eligible to donate by answering questions in an online quiz. There may be other reasons why you are unable to give blood or plasma.

basic eligibility quiz can be found on the NZBS website.

For more information contact the NZ Blood Service.

Read more about blood transfusion on Healthify.