FDA shortens wait time for donors with tattoos

Phlebotomist Angie Johnson in one of the Houchin mobile blood banks as she preps a BC student before drawing blood, she was one of many medical professionals at the Annual BC Blood Drive at Bakersfield College.

Alexandra Apatiga, Editor-in-Chief

A recent change administered under the Food and Drug Administration, which went into effect on Feb. 2, has shortened the waiting period for those wishing to donate blood who’ve recently received a tattoo, from one year to seven days.

The new decision comes as Bakersfield College hosted its Annual BC Blood Drive on March 7 and 8 with Houchin Community Blood Bank, providing students information, a chance to register as a donor, screenings, and the opportunity to donate blood.

Individuals with tattoos who may have been previously barred from donating blood can now do so under the new regulations within the state of California. To be able to donate, the donor’s tattoo must have been done in a licensed facility, applied with a sterilized needle using new ink – not reused – and have waited a full seven day or more since getting the tattoo to donate.

In addition to these, donors must also still meet the basic requirements, such as providing a valid picture ID, be at least 110 lbs., be free of illness, cold, or any sign of infection, have eaten a meal at least 3 hours prior to drawing blood, go through a screening, and be at least 16 years old. Any minors were required to obtain parental consent before signing up.

The two-day blood drive at BC welcomed students as they were registered and screened inside the Fireside Room and taken to the mobile trailers just outside the Campus Center at the Renegade Crossroads. Inside the mobile donation centers, medical professionals drew a pint of blood from each donor, providing snacks and drinks as well as t-shirts and stickers for first time blood donors.

According to Stephanie Gibbons, an Account Manager for Houchin who was present at the BC blood drive, Houchin’s partnership with BC has grown over the last decade to what it is today. “We’re the only blood bank in Kern County,” said Gibbons, explaining that all of the medical institutions in Kern County receive blood from their facility. “We’re always holding events like these around town and advertising, because we want to encourage people to donate and help save lives.”

“There’s always a demand for blood, because there’s always something happening, such as a shooting or a car crash, so people need blood all the time” said Gibbons.

According to Gibbons, the new FDA regulations was a big deal. “We’ve been providing flyers and information to get the word out about the new change, it’s a big thing,” said Gibbons.

At the BC blood drive, Gibbons also provided insight into how in-depth the registration and screening process was for students, checking temperature, iron levels, blood pressure, pulse, and more.

Arianna Cortez, a BC student and first time blood donor, shared her thoughts on the process she’d underwent after she finished donating blood. “The people who helped me with my paperwork and screening were very thorough, it helped calm down my nerves because they looked like they knew what they were doing” said Cortez.

Another BC student, Jose Gutierrez, was waiting in line to register and donate.

“I use to donate blood in high school, so when I saw the trailers outside, I decided to come here and donate again,” said Gutierrez.

Both Cortez and Gutierrez also expressed how important the news that potential donors with tattoos could donate. “I think it’s fair because we should be accepting help from those who want to help, especially with a simple act like giving blood,” said Cortes, “a lot of people want to donate, so it’s nice to hear there’s been a change so that they can help now.”