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Can British people banned from giving blood in France be organ donors?

People who spent over one year in the UK between 1980 and 1996 cannot give blood due to an outbreak of BSE there

In France, organ donation upon death is assumed and a person has to opt-out if they do not wish to donate their organs Pic: Robert Kneschke / Shutterstock

Reader question: I am British and as I was living in the UK in the 1980s and 1990s, I cannot give blood in France - but can I still be an organ donor?

It is still possible for people who were living in the UK in the 1980s and early 1990s to be organ donors in France, even if they cannot give blood. 

This was confirmed to The Connexion by the Agence de la biomédecine, the agency in charge of organ removal and transportation in France.

In France, one factor that disqualifies someone from giving blood is if they spent over one year in total in the UK between January 1, 1980, and December 31, 1996. This is regardless of nationality and is due to an outbreak of mad cow disease (Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease) in the UK at the time. 

The outbreak of the disease, also known as bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), caused the deaths of 177 people – who died after eating infected beef – and also led to the slaughter of millions of cows. 

France first introduced this blood donation rule in the year 2000. 

Read more: Giving blood: When will France end ban over UK’s 1980s BSE outbreak?

However, this ruling does not impact the donation of organs, said Hélène Duguet, press officer for the Agence de la biomédecine.

In France, organ donation upon death is assumed and a person has to opt-out if they do not wish to donate their organs. This can be done at this link

Ms Duguet said that anyone who is a resident in France, whether they are a foreign national or not, is included under this legislation. It means that a British person who is a resident in France is automatically on the organ donation list.

This is not the same for tourists to France, who are still covered by their own country's laws on organ donation. 

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