by Lakyn Webb
In October of 2022, Chris Goodenough was able to give blood for the first time in 16 years. Born in the U.K., Chris was among hundreds of thousands of individuals ineligible to donate blood.
Since 1999, the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) banned individuals from donating blood if they had a geographical risk of being exposed to bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), more commonly known as Mad Cow Disease. This rare disease causes both classical (CJD) and variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (vCJD), which are fatal brain diseases that affect the prion protein.
In the 23 years the ban has been in effect, the risk has remained theoretical, and there have been no reported exposures via blood transfusion. Therefore, based on an FDA risk assessment, the ban was lifted in October 2022. Having this ban lifted is crucial in meeting blood donation demands, allowing an estimated 2% of the population to donate. The Red Cross must collect 12,500 blood and 3,000 platelets donations daily to meet needs.
Before moving to the U.S. in 2006, Chris donated blood regularly. Chris knows the value of donating blood. In the U.K., he directly donated blood to his brother and received a blood transfusion. So, when he heard the ban was lifted, he felt it was only fitting to donate in the U.S. Chris attended a blood drive the same month the ban was lifted.
“My desire to give comes from having a life-threatening situation that almost robbed me of the joy of watching my kids grow up, and I saw my brother go through heart surgery to enable him to live his life,” said Goodenough. “Neither of us would be here without the gift of life-giving blood from a completely selfless individual.”
Chris stays busy as the Vice President of Southwest Operations for Medline Industries. But in his free time, he is an active Northwest Arkansas American Red Cross member. He serves on the Board of Directors and is also a member of the Biomedical Services Committee.
Chris gave blood for a second time on Feb. 8, 2023. Chris made a Power Red Donation for his second blood donation since the vCJD ban was lifted. This type of donation allows a donor to safely donate two units of red blood cells during one donation while returning plasma and platelets back to the donor. This special type of donation greatly impacts the blood supply, allowing each donor to give more. Newborns and individuals with sick cell anemia are first in line to receive this blood.
“I felt like it was my time to give back,” said Goodenough.
The Red Cross has many layers of safety in place to help protect the blood supply of valued donors. First, each potential donor undergoes an eligibility screening, and then each donation has rigorous testing performed. For questions about blood donation eligibility, please call the Red Cross Donor and Client Support Center at 1-866-236-327.
“My desire to give comes from having a life-threatening situation that almost robbed me of the joy of watching my kids grow up, and I saw my brother go through heart surgery to enable him to live his life. Neither of us would be here without the gift of life-giving blood from a completely selfless individual”.