Lack of tattoo regulations affect blood donations in NY

Posted at: 02/27/2013 4:43 PM
Updated at: 02/27/2013 6:14 PM
By: Joangel Concepcion

The Red Cross says it's in a tight spot. It's facing an extreme need, but at the same time, is being forced to turn away at least a thousand potential donors because of tattoos.

Officials say people who've recently gotten one are a health risk because there are no regulations in New York tattoo parlors.

If 1,000 people are turned away because of tattoos, that means more than 3,000 people's lives may be affected in Monroe County. The Red Cross receives 1,200 units of blood every day throughout the state, with 10-13 blood drives every day in Monroe County.

Maureen Wellman, American Red Cross New York-Penn Region, says, “Our number one priority is the safety of our blood supply and the safety of our donors.”

Maureen Wellman of the American Red Cross New York-Penn Region says they receive several pints of blood on a daily basis. They are forced to monitor everyone that comes in to donate especially people with tattoos.

Wellman said, “FDA regulations require us to defer any donor who has received a tattoo in a non-regulated state for at least 12 months. If they receive a tattoo in a regulated state, there is no deferral period.”

Almost two weeks ago, News10NBC uncovered there are no regulations in tattoo parlors in New York State. That's the number one reason the American Red Cross regulates donors with tattoos. New York isn't alone. 11 other states are also unregulated throughout our area. Throughout our area, the American Red Cross turned away almost 1,000 donors.  Wellman says the number can even be higher.

Wellman said, “You have to understand that doesn't include those donors that may have self deferred at the donor center upon reading requirement materials and also those donors that may not have come in at all.”

The American Red Cross says one donation can save up to three lives. If that's the case, then thousands of lives are affected here because of the lack of tattoo regulations in Monroe County.

Wellman said, “It's a significant number and I believe if the regulation in New York State did change, it could have a positive impact on our collections numbers absolutely.”

News10NBC is still trying to get the New York Health Department to talk with us about why there are no regulations in tattoo parlors. We wanted to know if we will see any changes within the next year and we wanted to know if the health department is aware of what this is doing to blood donations throughout the state.

For more information on the Red Cross and how you can donate, you can call them at 1-800-Red Cross or redcross.org