People who get tattoos in Australia will no longer have to wait four months after being inked before donating plasma to help save lives.
The Therapeutic Goods Administration has approved a change in the guidelines for plasma donation through Australian Red Cross Lifeblood, but the four month waiting period still applies for whole blood donations.
"The need for plasma is growing and growing and growing," said Lifeblood spokesman Colin Littlejohn. "There's 18 products they make from plasma now and the fact we are doing convalescent plasma for COVID treatment."
A study of 25,000 tattooed donors found those inked in Australian licensed tattoo studios were safe to donate plasma.
All donated plasma in Australia is tested for HIV and hepatitis B and C, but it takes time for a recent infection - that may be contracted from a contaminated needle - to become detectable.
"While there is a link between needle procedures such as tattoos and blood born viruses, this new research demonstrates that those who received tattoos in Australian licensed or regulated premises are safe to donate," Mr Littlejohn said.
Plasma, the yellow liquid that makes up more than half of what flows through our veins, is used in hospitals to treat trauma and bleeding.
It is also used to make life-saving medicine for patients with immunodeficiency and autoimmune diseases, cancer, haemophilia, kidney conditions and burns.
Currently, the nearest plasma donation service is in Ballarat, which needs more than 360 extra plasma donations in the next three weeks.
It is believed the rule change will impact more than 120 donors each year.
"People with tattoos are perfect plasma donors because we know they're not afraid of needles - one of the biggest barriers for new donors donating blood or plasma for the first time," Mr Littlejohn said.
Australia is one of the first countries in the world to remove the waiting period, and Lifeblood researchers hope their work will pave the way for other countries to follow suit.
To donate plasma, visit lifeblood.com.au or call 13 14 95.
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