BLOOD. Supplies are low.
Many British citizens relocating to Spain are still finding themselves disappointed when they are refused by blood donation centres. The Spanish government passed a directive in 2003 prohibiting anyone who had lived in the UK from 1980 onwards from giving blood here, regardless of whether they were a regular donor in the UK or not. The reason for the ban is linked with the 90s outbreak of so-called ‘mad cow disease’, or CJD, in UK cattle, which can be transmitted to humans in the form of a fatal brain disease called variant Creutzfeld-Jacob Disease (vCJD).
There is now sufficient evidence from a small number of case studies involving patients and laboratory animals that vCJD can be transmitted through blood transfusion, as was the case with three of the UK’s total 168 vCJD cases during the outbreak. As yet, there is no screening test for human vCJD that could be used to screen potential blood donors, although development of tests continues . This means that blood collections from those who have been where this disease is found are banned in Spain, where five people have died from vCJD.
Some UK donors are angry that this is the case, given that they have not personally come into contact with the disease and are regular donors in their country of origin. They protest that at present worldwide blood supplies are already low, and will continue to drop even lower despite their willingness to donate. Anyone who is interested and eligible to donate in any community is advised to contact their local health centre for donation days.