Blood donor guidelines changes, maternal & infant health: Seacoast health news

Portsmouth Herald

Dartmouth Health Blood Donor Program guideline changes help increase donations, maintain safety

Implemented this month, Dartmouth Health’s new blood donation policy, which aligns with FDA guidance, eliminates questions based on sexual orientation and gender and moves to an individual donor assessment.

LEBANON – Emergency blood donations are in short supply nationwide, with donations among Americans currently at a 20-year low. Blood donation is critically important from people of all blood types, genders, ethnicities and regions to ensure that there is an adequate supply of blood is available to people undergoing treatment of serious illness and following medical emergencies. However, until recently, some members of the LGBTQIA+ community and their sexual partners were barred from donating based on outdated science.

On Feb. 19, Dartmouth Health’s Blood Donor Program implemented the Food and Drug Administration’s updated guidelines for blood donation. This change eliminate questions based on sexual orientation and gender and moves to an individual donor assessment. Now, donation eligibility is based on the individual, not sexual orientation or gender identity, so a person’s choice of sexual partner will no longer matter.

“The FDA’s change in policy is based on science and facts. We have learned a lot in the 40-plus years since the AIDS epidemic began, and we know now that prohibiting people who want to give blood based on their sexuality and identity is not only discriminatory, it’s unnecessary to stemming the spread of HIV, and only hurts patients who need blood,” said Amber Grantham, donor relations specialist with the Blood Donor Program. “By implementing the Donor Health History Questionnaire 4.0, we removed barriers to populations who want to give blood while maintaining safety protocols to protect blood donors and recipients.”

Blood collected by the Blood Donor Program stays within the Dartmouth Health system, benefiting patients in New Hampshire in Vermont. To learn more about the program and make an appointment to donate, visit For more information on Dartmouth Health’s updated blood donation policy, visit

Dartmouth Health and New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services launch initiative to improve maternal and infant health

LEBANON – Dartmouth Health and the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services and are taking a significant step towards addressing maternal mortality and morbidity with the launch of the New Hampshire Perinatal Quality Collaborative (NHPQC). Led by a team from Dartmouth Health Population Health and the DHHS Maternal and Child Health Program, the NHPQC aims to improve access to high-quality perinatal care and significantly reduce disparities for pregnant individuals and infants in the state.

“Every New Hampshire resident should have access to the best prenatal care, postpartum care, and birthing services they need to stay healthy. The Collaborative’s work will help make that a reality,” said Patricia Tilley, DHHS Associate Commissioner. “The Department is proud to partner with individuals and organizations throughout the state, including Dartmouth Health, to understand the challenges residents are facing, implement best practices, and knock down barriers to care.”

The planning team, consisting of multidisciplinary professionals including community leaders and women with recent birthing experience, is working to create a collaborative that can effectively address the specific needs of pregnant individuals and infants in New Hampshire. In light of data presented in a newly released State of Maternal Health Report, the NHPQC recognizes that poor outcomes disproportionately impact individuals based on race/ethnicity, rurality, income level and insurance status, and aims to bridge these gaps. 

All stakeholders, including hospitals, outpatient providers, social services, community organizations, government organizations, homebirth providers, and individuals with lived experience, will be involved in co-creating a framework for quality improvement across all settings where pregnant and postpartum people receive care. The NHPQC presents an opportunity to create a framework that will support ongoing collaborative community efforts to move improvements forward collectively statewide.

The NHPQC will also support ongoing statewide quality improvement initiatives, such as the implementation of AIM bundles, a national program of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, in collaboration with the Northern New England Quality Improvement Network and DHHS. Additionally, the NHPQC will prioritize underserved and marginalized communities, with a focus on community-driven approaches for implementing nationally recognized best practices in perinatal care.

The NHPQC’s first meeting will be March 4. This collaborative effort has been made possible through funding from DHHS and the generous support of an anonymous organization, which has donated funds to support the planning year until June 30, 2024.

The NHPQC is committed to creating a patient-centered system of care, improving outcomes, and ensuring that every pregnant person and infant in New Hampshire receives the highest quality perinatal care possible.