Railway worker “overjoyed” to donate blood for the first time as rules for gay and bi-sexual men change: shane andrews giving blood

Wednesday 16 Jun 2021

Railway worker “overjoyed” to donate blood for the first time as rules for gay and bi-sexual men change

Region & Route:
Wales & Western: Wales & Borders

Shane Andrews MBE donated alongside First Minister of Wales, Mark Drakeford, who has shown his support for the campaign for change

Network Rail project operations interface specialist, Shane Andrews MBE, is one of the first gay men in the UK who celebrated World Blood Donor Day on Monday 14th June by giving blood, for the first time.

Changes to the eligibility questions now means that gay men, in monogamous relationships, no longer have to wait three months before donating platelets or blood.

All donors, regardless of gender or sexual orientation, will now be asked a new set of questions about sexual behaviours, focused mainly on the last three months.

This means that some LGBT+ donors might not be eligible on the day but may be eligible to donate in the future.

The change has been introduced following recommendations made by the FAIR (For the Assessment of Individualised Risk) steering group, which is a UK wide collaboration including representatives from all UK blood services, medical and scientific experts, LGBT+ groups, as well as a selection of patients and donors.

LGBT+ campaigner, Shane Andrews MBE, was one of the first in line to give blood at the Welsh Blood Services HQ in Llantrisant on Monday morning.

Shane said:

As Chair of Archway (Network Rail’s LGBT+ employee network), I have been heavily involved in improving diversity and inclusivity in the rail industry and I am delighted I am able to lead by example and spread the word in a practical way of these changes, hopefully encouraging industry colleagues to join me in giving this life saving gift. 

Today is my first donation but it definitely won’t be my last. I learnt that each donation helps 3 adults or 6 premature babies and as such I intend to donate regularly.  I feel honoured to have commenced my lifesaving journey on World Blood Donor Day but also during Pride month.

The First Minister of Wales gave his 50th blood donation today alongside blood donors eligible for the first time.

First Minister of Wales, Mark Drakeford, said:

Today is an important day in bringing to an end the discrimination LGBT+ people have faced in donating blood.

I’m delighted to play my part and give blood today, on World Blood Donor Day, alongside those who have campaigned hard for this change and helped to make it happen.

Blood donation can save and change lives and I would encourage anyone who is able and willing to donate.”

Around 350 blood donations are needed each day by the Welsh Blood Service to maintain a steady supply of vital blood and blood components to 20 hospitals across the country.

Welsh Blood Service Director, Alan Prosser said:

We are thrilled to mark World Blood Donor Day by welcoming more people into our lifesaving team of blood and platelet donors.

From today, more people can safely donate thanks to a new and fairer eligibility criteria.

Whilst blood services are not responsible for setting the rules around donation, we are delighted that our work in collaboration with the FAIR steering group has led to the new regulations.

If you have never given blood before, please consider supporting us by donating at your local donation clinic.”

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Kathy Peart
Media relations manager
Network Rail

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