Shane Andrews MBE, who works for Network Rail as a project operations interface specialist and who also featured on the cover of Rail Director magazine in May 2021, was “overjoyed” to donate blood for the first time as the rules for gay and bi-sexual men changed.
Celebrating World Blood Donor Day on Monday 14 June by giving blood for the first time, Shane donated alongside First Minister of Wales, Mark Drakeford, who has shown his support for the campaign for change.
Modifications 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.
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+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transexual + others) groups, as well as a selection of patients and donors.
LGBT+ campaigner Shane was one of the first in line to give blood at the Welsh Blood Services HQ in Llantrisant on Monday morning. He 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 three adults or six 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, Mark Drakeford, gave his 50th blood donation alongside blood donors eligible for the first time. He commented: “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.”
Blood donations are needed everyday to maintain a steady supply of vital blood and blood components to 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.”