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Tissue and Cell Donation

Volume 737: debated on Monday 18 September 2023

The findings of the Government commissioned review into donor selection policies, that was carried out by the ‘For Assessment of Individualised Risk’ (FAIR) Steering Group, led to the implementation of changes in summer 2021 to address inequalities in blood donation. These changes mean that anyone who attends a blood donation centre regardless of sex or sexuality will be assessed for eligibility according to individual risk.

It is almost two years since the implementation of the changes for blood donation and I am pleased to announce today the publication of recommendations in the FAIR III report for tissue and cell donation. The report highlights an individualised risk-based approach for living tissue and cell donation—surgical bone, amnion, stem cells and cord blood—and deceased tissue donation. The Government have now reviewed the evidence presented by the FAIR III Steering Group, together with the advice of the Advisory Committee on the Safety of Blood, Tissues and Organs, and has accepted this recommendation.

This change will provide equity in access to donation for men who have sex with men across the UK, aligning with changes to blood donor selection related to sexual behaviours and the Government’s commitment to address health inequalities, as set out in the Levelling Up White Paper and the NHS Long Term Plan.

The Government wish to pay tribute to the tissue and organ donation experts and the patient and donor family representatives on the Steering Group, as well as health and academic colleagues whose valuable engagement led to the development of this important evidence-based report.

The Government are also grateful to the Joint United Kingdom Blood Transfusion and Tissue Transplantation Services Professional Advisory Committee, the Advisory Committee on the Safety of Blood, Tissues and Organs and NHS Blood and Transplant for their work in developing recommendations that are based on robust evidence from epidemiology, behaviour and psychosocial data and engaging with service users and providers.

The Department of Health and Social Care is working with NHS Blood and Transplant and the Devolved Governments to implement this change. We will have monitoring mechanisms in place to ensure the safety of donors and patients, including continued monitoring of infections. The changes will be reviewed in 12 months.