Ethiopian Israelis will be able to donate blood without restrictions

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JERUSALEM — Ethiopian Israelis will be permitted to donate blood without restrictions.

The new Health Ministry rules will take effect on July 1, Haaretz reported Tuesday, citing the Magen David Adom ambulance service. Blood donations from Ethiopian-born Israelis have been banned since 1977.

The date of the new procedures was announced at the meeting Monday of the Knesset Committee for Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs.

Blood donations now can only be refused from an Israeli who has spent more than a year in a country afflicted by a widespread disease, including HIV/AIDS. The ministry also changed the rules for blood donations from homosexuals and those older than 65.

The Ethiopia issue was taken up at the end of 2013 when Israeli lawmakers called for an examination of Magen David Adom blood donation policies after an Ethiopia-born Knesset member was rejected as a donor.

Lawmaker Pnina Tamano-Shata of the Yesh Atid party tried to donate during a special blood drive in December 2013 at the Knesset but was told she could not because she was Ethiopian. Tamano-Shata was told subsequently that she could donate, but the blood would be frozen and never used.