LANDSTUHL REGIONAL MEDICAL CENTER - The Armed Services Blood Program is scheduled to implement sweeping changes to blood donor eligibility July 13 that will allow thousands more to donate to the Dept. of Defense’s own blood program.“This will be the first time since the early 2000's that local national employees, as well as many military, retirees and veterans and family members who have lived in Europe for some time, will be eligible to help maintain the military’s blood supply,” said Blood Donor Recruiter Stacy Sanning. “We are very excited, as these changes will help ensure we can continue meeting the military’s blood needs throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and in the future.”These eligibility changes are in response to updates in the Food and Drug Administration’s guidance for variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease or the human form of “mad cow” disease, human immunodeficiency virus and malaria.In keeping with the FDA’s recommendations, the following changes are expected to be implemented July 13.Travel restrictions lifted and reduced for “mad cow” and malaria: Nearly all deferrals will be removed for people who spent certain amounts of time in Europe and were previously considered to have potential risk of transmitting vCJD, or “mad cow” disease. The only remaining travel deferrals will be for individuals who lived three months or more in the United Kingdom 1980-1996, or those who have spent a total of five years or more in France and Ireland 1980-2001. There will no longer be any deferrals based on time spent in other European countries, including Germany, Italy, Belgium, Spain and more. This is what will allow many local nationals to give blood, if they are able to enter U.S. military bases in Europe where blood drives are conducted. Deferral time following travel to a malaria-risk area, which includes many locations where military deploy, will reduce from 12 months to three months.HIV restrictions reduce for sexual relations and tattoos: Deferral time following transmission risks associated with HIV will reduce from 12 months to three months.Individuals who may be affected include men who have had sex with men, women who have had sex with men who had sex with another man, people who received a blood transfusion and people who received a tattoo overseas or in a U.S. state that does not regulate tattoo facilities.“We are asking for all those who have been unable to donate blood with the ASBP due to the previous restrictions to please consider making an appointment at one of our upcoming blood drives,” said Sanning. “During this pandemic, it is more important than ever to give blood directly to our military and families, so it will be on the shelves when they need it.”Donation appointments requiredFind all ASBP blood drives throughout Europe at www.militarydonor.com and search by Sponsor Code: Europe or simply scan the QR code with a smartphone camera. Appointments are required to maintain physical distance during the COVID-19 pandemic.Blood drives are currently scheduled throughout Germany and will soon be scheduled on other U.S. bases in Europe as travel restrictions ease.For more information about blood drives or blood donor eligibility, contact the ASBP - Europe at DSN 590-5885, +49 (0) 6371-9464-5885, usarmy.donateblood-europe@mail.mil or online at www.facebook.com/ASBPeurope.New eligibility may help increase plasma collections for COVID-19 patientsThe ASBP is now testing all whole blood donations for COVID-19 antibodies. The updated blood donor eligibility will open the doors to more people who may have potentially lifesaving antibodies. This testing may provide critical insight into whether you may have been exposed to COVID-19. An antibody test is not a diagnosis, it simply assesses whether your immune system has responded to the virus, not if the virus is currently present. The ASBP is working to help the Dept. of Defense collect at least 8,000 units of plasma that could help severely ill COVID-19 patients.Donors who have these antibodies present will be informed and may be asked to donate plasma at the donor center in Landstuhl, Germany. One plasma donation can provide up to three plasma units for COVID-19 patients. Donors unable to travel to Landstuhl will be encouraged to continue giving blood at mobile blood drives, making a unit of plasma available for COVID-19 patients.Upcoming blood donation events in Germany (appointments required)July 13-14 WiesbadenJuly 21-22 StuttgartJuly 27-28 RamsteinAug. 4 SpangdahlemAug. 11 BaumholderAug. 18 Ansbach(Note: Blood donations nearly every day at the Landstuhl Blood Donor Center)About the Armed Services Blood ProgramSince 1962, the Armed Services Blood Program has served as the sole provider of blood for the United States military. As a tri-service organization, the ASBP collects, processes, stores and distributes blood and blood products to Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and their families worldwide. To find out more about the ASBP, please visit www.militaryblood.dod.mil. To interact directly with ASBP staff members, see more photos or get the latest news, follow @militaryblood on Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, YouTube and Pinterest. Find the drop. Donate.