MONTRÉAL, Sept. 6, 2022 /CNW Telbec/ - Héma-Québec is very happy that Health Canada has decided to extend the use of a gender-neutral questionnaire to all types of blood donations. This new measure, effective December 4, will make blood and platelet donations much more inclusive. Today's decision is in addition to Health Canada's March 25, 2022, decision on plasma donations.
"This new, more inclusive approach will place Héma-Québec among the leaders on the international stage in its field of activity. A more inclusive approach that respects the safety of the products transfused to those who need them is also in line with our commitments to social responsibility. It is consistent with the actions we have taken since 2013, with the approval of Health Canada, for men who have sex with men. Making this humanitarian gesture even more inclusive and accessible to a greater number of people, regardless of their gender or sexual orientation, is an important step forward," says Nathalie Fagnan, President and CEO.
Changes for all donors
The use of a gender-neutral questionnaire will have an impact on everyone who wants to donate. Regular donors will see some changes to the mandatory questionnaire they must complete before each donation. These new questions will ask about sexual behaviour and pregnancy history. Those who report having a new partner within the last 3 months, or multiple partners, will be asked additional questions.
"This is a significant and important change to qualification criteria, as the assessment of risk for sexual activity will be done on an individual basis rather than on the basis of belonging to a group considered to be at risk. This means, for example, that people who identify as sexually diverse will be able to donate blood, including men who have sex with men. On the other hand, it also means that some heterosexual individuals may no longer qualify to donate blood. Our assessments and the results observed in the United Kingdom, which implemented a similar approach in June 2021, allow us to estimate that the new measure will have no negative impact on the supply. Furthermore, this entire approach is based on scientific evidence, while maintaining a high level of safety for blood products intended for transfusion," explains Dr. Marc Germain, Vice President, Medical Affairs and Innovation.
What are the next steps?
The gender-neutral questionnaire will be rolled out in two stages in Quebec. The measure will be applied to plasma donations as of October 2, following an initial favourable decision by Health Canada last March. Since then, our teams have been working on the adjustments to be made to operations at the collection sites and in the computer systems, as well as training the teams.
Today's decision will allow the measure to be extended to all types of donations starting December 4, 2022.
Héma-Québec's mission is to efficiently meet the Québec population's needs for blood and other high-quality biological products of human origin. Héma-Québec has more than 1,400 employees, almost 200,000 donors of blood, plasma, stem cells, mother's milk and human tissue, as well as thousands of volunteers at blood drive sites. Héma-Québec delivers nearly 800,000 human-derived biological products to Québec hospitals every year to meet patients' needs.
Give blood. Give life.
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