Existing elderly blood donors will be allowed to continue to donate after their 70th birthday, but first-timers will be restricted to 65, according to new regulations.
Improved fitness and health among older donors has prompted the change, which it is hoped will result in an extra 15,000 donations a year.
Current rules stating that older donors cannot continue past the age of 70 will change to allow those who have given blood in the past two years to continue after their 70th birthday.
Lynda Hamlyn, chief executive of NHS Blood and Transplant, said: “Our older donors are amongst our most loyal and many want to keep giving beyond their 70th birthday.
“We continually review our donor criteria and given the steady improvement we have seen over recent years in the general fitness of our older donors, it is now safe for us to remove our upper age limit for donation.”
Gordon Lishman, director general of Age Concern, said: “This is a great example of how breaking down age barriers brings huge benefits, not only to older people, but society in general.
“We hope it will encourage other organisations to look carefully at their policies and ensure they don’t unnecessarily exclude people because of their age.”
Copyright Press Association 2008