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Oct 17, 2013, 12:57 PM

Post #1 of 4 (3935 views)


USA turning away potential blood donors owing to malaria in Mexico!

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It saddens me that I cannot donate blood in Mexico owing to Mexican refusal to accept donors aged 60 and over. (That rule applies at least in the Yucatan.) I have to confess that it somewhat saddens and infuriates me that I am turned away from U.S. blood banks owing to an erroneous U.S. Food and Drug Administration listing of just about all of Mexico as being malarial. The FDA has recently allowed for donors who reside or visit in Jalisco and Quintano Roo. The basis for that exemption, besides the absurdity that would result from finding malaria rampant in those states despite lack of malarial cases there, is that the potential US donor base would be hit if blood banks required a 3 year deferral of donors after a visit to, say, Cancun.

Meanwhile, the CDC info indicates no malaria in the state of Yucatan. Yet donors residing in or presumably visiting that state would have to be deferred if they honestly answered where they have been.

Below is my recent correspondence to the FDA, and I would welcome others commenting to the FDA regarding their state of Mexican residence or visitation:

Date: Thu, Oct 17, 2013 at 1:51 PM
Subject: Fwd: FDA requirement of 3 yr deferral for potential blood donors resident in Merida Yuc., Mexico

I am sending this to the FDA CBER Ombudsman office as I see no other indication of a more appropriate office; please forward this to any more appropriate office. This is a complaint about the FDA in effect banning potential blood donors who are residents or long-term visitors to the state of Yucatan, in particular the city of Merida and nearby Gulf coastal regions, from donating blood given the FDA's erroneous listing of that state as malarial. Note once again that the FDA does not so list the adjacent state of Quintano Roo as having an incidence of malaria such as to prohibit such donations. The acceptance of QR owes to the adverse impact on the US donor pool if it were so listed.

I ask that the FDA acknowledge to U.S. blood banks that it has no objection to such blood banks accepting donations from residents of or visitors to Merida and to its state of Yucatan.

I would like to point out that the CDC states that there is no malaria in the province (acutally, none in the state) of Yucatán (or at least, I would note, no greater than Florida or La., etc.), see: and search on Merida, and then select Merida, Yucatan, Mexico from a drop-down list.:

You searched for city named Merida, in the province of Yucatan, in the country of Mexico
NOTE: Malaria information generally available only for the province and country in which the city is located
Malaria in Province:
Province Name Malaria in Province Prophylaxis for this State/Province/District
Yucatan None Not applicable
Malaria in Country:
Country Name Malaria in Country Drug Resistance Malaria Type Prophylaxis for Areas with Malaria
Mexico Present in Chihuahua, Chiapas, Durango, Nayarit, Oaxaca, and Sinaloa. Rare cases in Jalisco, Quintana Roo, Sonora, and Tabasco. No malaria along the United States-Mexico border. None P. vivax 100% Areas with Malaria except states of Jalisco, Quintana Roo, Sonora and Tabasco: Atovaquone-proguanil, chloroquine, doxycycline, mefloquine, or primaquine (prior to primaquine use, all patients must be tested and documented to have a normal level of glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase activity). States of Jalisco, Quintana Roo, Sonora, and Tabasco: Mosquito avoidance only.

I do note that the CDC appears to forget Yucatan when discussing prophylaxis.

We receive many visitors to Merida, the coastal towns, as well as to the Mayan ruins in Yucatan. Indeed, many visitors to QR, such as Cancun, Cozumel, and Playa del Carmen, travel to our state to see the wonders of the ancient Mayan world. Furthermore, we have probably as many as 4,000 permanent residents in primarily Merida who are U.S. citizens. Those numbers increase greatly for the"snw birds" who come in October-March of every year.

I just got back from Philadelphia, Pa., where the Thomas Jefferson Medical Hospital blood bank turned me away from donating based on the August 2013 FDA listing of malarial area. They said a three year deferral applies -- which means I will never be able to donate as I now reside in Merida, Yucatan, Mexico...

When I read of the desperate situation of U.S. blood baniks, I suspect that FDA rules erroneously, and not science-based, bar many potential donors.

Regards, (my name)

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Fri, Oct 11, 2013 at 8:01 AM
Subject: FDA requirement of 3 yr deferral for potential blood donors resident in Merida Yuc., Mexico

On Oct. 10, I, a U.S. citizen resident in the city of Merida, was denied as a potential donor to a U.S. blood bank. The Thomas Jefferson Hospital, Philadelphia, Pa., advised me that the most recent FDA ruling requires them to defer, for 3 years, any resident of the state of Yucatan, Mexico. As a resident of Merida, that means that I will never be able to donate.

I see the Aug. 2013 latest blood guidance does permit donors, without deferrals, from the neighboring state of Quintana Roo, basically because the risk is so low, and the donor base so impacted, by visitors to Q.R. As a resident of Merida, with a physician wife, I know malaria to be so rare (primarily limited to international visitors!), that I would not be surprised if the incidence were as low as s. Fla. or s. La., USA.

Also, I note that the guidance cites possible reconsideration of the deferral policy, to allow visitors and residents of other malarial low risk states to donate blood. Please advise me when comments will be open regarding the current ban on donors from the state of Yucatan, and specifically the city of Merida and the Gulf Coast resorts to our north. Also note that many visitor to Q.R. visit our exotic world famous Mayan ruins located in the eastern part of the state of Yucatan.

(This post was edited by Aaron+ on Oct 17, 2013, 12:59 PM)

Bennie García

Oct 17, 2013, 1:48 PM

Post #2 of 4 (3921 views)


Re: [Aaron+] USA turning away potential blood donors owing to malaria in Mexico!

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Good luck with that, Steve.


Oct 17, 2013, 2:59 PM

Post #3 of 4 (3904 views)


Re: [Aaron+] USA turning away potential blood donors owing to malaria in Mexico!

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In many places you cannot give blood over 60 so nothing strange there..
When I came bacj from Thailand I was in my 30´s and did not take any anti malarial pill, I was told I could not give blood for one year, they also tell me that if I had taken the antimalarial pills I could not have given blood for 3 years.

Malaria is a nasty thing, better safe than sorry. it seems that they should worry about dengue rather than malaria but it is not a bad thing to have strict rules on the subject.


Oct 18, 2013, 6:29 AM

Post #4 of 4 (3852 views)


Re: [Aaron+] USA turning away potential blood donors owing to malaria in Mexico!

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Good effort, Aaron,

It can sometimes take a year or more to get the federal government to change irrational policies, but it is worth doing. Well crafted requests are taken seriously.
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