ROCKFORD, Ill. (July 20, 2020) – The Rock River Valley Blood Center (RRVBC) is excited to expand its donor base during a critical time thanks to recent Food and Drug Administration (FDA) efforts to expand eligibility by reducing or eliminating deferral times for specific populations.

FDA officials announced the changes earlier this year in response to the national blood shortage caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The blood center has worked diligently to modify protocols and computer systems and train staff and started rolling out the updates this week.

Highlights of these changes include:

Deferral changed from 12 months to three months:

  • Individuals who have had a blood transfusion.
  • Individuals who have been outside the U.S. or Canada in the past three years (for those who have traveled to malaria-endemic areas).
  • Individuals who have used needles to take drugs, steroids or anything not prescribed by their doctor.

No deferral, donor is eligible to donate:

  • Member or dependent of the U.S. military stationed in the United Kingdom or specific countries in Europe.


  • For individuals who spent time that adds up to five years or more in France or Ireland (other than Northern Ireland) from 1980 to 2001 – deferral changed to only countries of France and Ireland, and donor may be eligible to donate.

“We welcome these FDA updates and any opportunity to expand our donor base in this region and save more local lives,” CEO Lisa Entrikin said. “We have an urgent and ongoing need for blood as COVID-19 continues to impact the local blood supply, so the more people who are eligible to donate, the better.”

Visit the FDA’s website to view the full list of eligibility updates or call us at 815-965-8751 with questions. Schedule a donation anytime at or via the myRRVBC app.

These updates come at an important time, making blood donation possible for many individuals who previously had been deferred or unable to donate. Locally, we’ve lost more than 3,000 units of blood because of cancelled blood drives during the past few months. Other issues at play include:

  • Important enhanced safety and social distancing measures have reduced collection efforts and donor capacity, limiting mobile bus operations (where approximately 40% of the blood supply is collected).
  • Blood drives with schools, colleges, and universities have ceased, and it’s unclear if they will restart in the fall. These drives account for nearly 25% of the nation’s blood supply and help engage younger donors.
  • Many businesses that host regular blood drives remain closed.
  • Blood drives at movie theaters, festivals, concerts and large community events also have slowed.
  • Reduced mobile collections also impact the diversity of the donor population. This is vital in finding compatible blood for patients with sickle cell disease, which primarily affects the African American population.

“Blood centers nationwide are teetering on the edge of a blood supply crisis unlike anything the nation has ever experienced,” Entrikin said. “Every blood drive that does not take place and every donor who does not show up further puts the blood supply at risk.”

About Rock River Valley Blood Center
The Rock River Valley Blood Center is your community blood center and is the only provider of blood products and services to Mercyhealth’s Javon Bea Hospital-Rockton, Mercyhealth’s Javon Bea Hospital-Riverside, OSF Saint Anthony Medical Center, SwedishAmerican Hospital, SwedishAmerican Regional Cancer Center, SwedishAmerican Medical Center-Belvidere, Beloit Health System, Edgerton Hospital and Health Services, FHN-Freeport and Rochelle Community Hospital. The center has four convenient donor centers in Rockford, Belvidere and Freeport and the ability to support up to three mobile drives a day. The Rock River Valley Blood Center ensures that the right blood type is available at the right time for local patients whose lives may depend on it. Patients and their families rely on individuals to provide life-giving red blood cells, plasma, and platelets through blood donation.