Ban on UK blood donors overturned

Etienne Gould-Noonan was born 14 weeks early, the size of a Coke bottle.

His parents, Carmen Gould and Jonathon Noonan, couldn’t donate blood to their desperately sick boy because of their time spent in the UK.

Australian health authorities are now overturning the decades-long ban on blood donors who lived in the UK between 1980 and 1996, after the prohibition was introduced in 2000 to stop the spread of mad cow disease.


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The now eight-year-old Etienne had to rely on 58 blood transfusions while he spent 138 days in hospital after he was born in July 2014.

“It was something that absolutely saved his life, we wouldn’t be here without it,” Ms Gould says of the transfusions.

“We have always been unable to give blood. (Lifting the ban) is obviously something we want to support,” she tells AAP.

Ms Gould’s ban is even more unfortunate as she is a universal O-type.

The mother of the “always happy” Etienne laments never being able to meet or know the people who helped save her son’s life.

Australian Red Cross Lifeblood says Monday’s changes have come about as the risk of mad cow disease, also known as vCJD, has diminished.

The organisation continues to make desperate calls for blood donors, with the lifting of the ban partly prompted by the argument Lifeblood could have 18,000 more donors a year.

Donor services executive director Cath Stone was pleased reviews and risk modelling found the ban was no longer required.

Those who had previously been turned back from donating blood would be contacted by Lifeblood.

“We’re thrilled to welcome these newly eligible donors to our centres around the nation,” Ms Stone said.

Etienne was born at 26 weeks, the cut-off for a survivable pre-term pregnancy, and was the size of a 23-week-old.

He had a range of health problems, including brain and eye haemorrhages, a collapsed lung and sepsis.

At one point a priest was called to baptise the young boy because doctors didn’t believe he would survive.

Photos show Etienne dwarfed by his parents’ hands as they reach into the small incubator. Ms Gould, not allowed to stay overnight at the hospital, would often hide in empty rooms until visiting hours ended before sneaking into the ward to see her son.

He is now a healthy eight-year-old who Ms Gould says is stronger for having been through the ordeal. His blood type? B positive.

“He is hilarious. Very funny, just exuberant, loves life. He’s personality plus,” Ms Gould says.

© AAP 2022