Over-70s able to give blood as donation rules change


People over the age of 71 are no longer excluded from giving blood, provided they have done so in the past, helping the Red Cross meet the demand for donations

‘Every little helps’

A change in the rules governing blood donation means that people aged over 71 will soon be able to give blood, plasma and platelets.

Public health minister Maggie De Block has scrapped the age limit on donation, saying “there was no scientific basis for it”. The Red Cross says the measure will help reduce the shortage of donors. “In a five-year period, 8,000 people can give blood, which is worth 15,000 donations every year,” said Ine Tassignon, a spokesperson for Red Cross Flanders. “It’s a challenge to maintain the necessary blood supply levels, so every little bit helps.”

Over the past year, over-65s provided 14,000 donations, or 5.5% of the total. “That’s an important proportion,” Tassignon told VRT.

Doctors will decide if individuals are able to give blood, based on their health and history. Anyone older than 71 who wishes to donate must have already done so before their 66th birthday, and their most recent donation must have been no more than three years before.

The Red Cross Flanders has English-language guidelines about blood donation on its website and a checklist to see if you are eligible to give blood. People from the UK, or who spent more than six months in the UK between 1980 and 1996, are unable to donate.

Photo: Getty Images/Sasiistock