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Blood Donations

Dáil Éireann Debate, Wednesday - 24 February 2021

Wednesday, 24 February 2021

Ceisteanna (756)

Neasa Hourigan

Ceist:

756. Deputy Neasa Hourigan asked the Minister for Health his plans to review the 12-month bone marrow donation ban for gay and bisexual men; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9387/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

The Irish Unrelated Bone Marrow Registry (IUBMR) is a register of people who are willing to donate their bone marrow/stem cells if they are found to match an unrelated patient needing a stem cell transplant. The IUBMR is part of a worldwide network of unrelated donor registries.

The Irish Blood Transfusion Service (IBTS) hosts the Irish Unrelated Bone Marrow Registry (IUBMR). Donors wishing to donate bone marrow provide a DNA sample and are then placed on a database. As the IUBMR is hosted by the IBTS, blood group and infectious disease markers are tested at the time of donor registration. Some registries undertake this testing at a later date.

The IUBMR performs searches (for unrelated matching donors) on behalf of St James's Hospital and Children's Health Ireland (CHI) at Crumlin and Unrelated Bone Marrow Registries worldwide. Unlike for blood and blood components, the IBTS is not involved in the collection, processing and storage of bone marrow donations. The collection, processing and storage of bone marrow happens in the hospital.

The World Marrow Donor Association (www.wmda.info) sets out general eligibility criteria for bone marrow and blood stem cell donors, at the time of registration and also at the time of collection/harvest. The IUBMR follows this guidance. The IBTS has advised that men who have sex with men (MSM) who are willing to donate bone marrow can apply to join the IUBMR.

If a donor on the IUBMR is selected to donate, he or she undergoes a comprehensive medical assessment by the collection centre hospital (St James's Hospital) to determine whether the donor is fit and healthy to donate. The decision to proceed to donate depends upon this assessment and the acceptance of the donor by the recipient's transplant medical team at the other hospital. This process is identical throughout the world.

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