Rebecca Casada Ferguson, Kentucky

Previously Deferred Donor Grateful for Opportunity to Give Back

Isabelle Louise receiving blood.

Jan. 20, 2023

Rebecca Casada had always wanted to donate blood. Growing up, she watched her father donate every few months. She saw her late grandmother require blood transfusions for a heart issue. Working in the medical field, she knows it saves lives.

But Rebecca lived in England for a few years while her dad worked in the military that prevented Rebecca the opportunity to give. Before Rebecca was old enough to donate, a permanent deferral was put in place by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for anyone who had traveled to or lived in the United Kingdom, France or Ireland for a theoretical risk of transmitting variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (vCJD, also known as mad cow disease). That included Rebecca and her family.

The inability to donate really struck a chord with Rebecca when her twin daughters were born two years ago and one of them, Isabelle Louise, needed two transfusions after a premature birth.

“Having been in the hospital with my kids, I can’t imagine having family members needing blood and it just not being there,” Rebecca said. “That can be a life-or-death situation. I couldn’t imagine my daughter not being able to get what she needed.”

Rebecca Casada donates blood at the Rockcastle Regional Hospital on Dec. 30, 2021.

A Simple, Easy Experience

So, when Rebecca got a call recently from Kentucky Blood Center that the longtime vCJD deferral had been lifted and Rebecca can now give, she “started crying happy tears” because she was so excited to give back to other families.

Rebecca donated for the first time in December at the KBC blood drive at Rockcastle Regional Hospital. Her mother and father, who were also previously deferred from residence in England, jumped at the chance to donate and did so recently at the Somerset Donor Center. And her husband is going to donate for the first time at his company’s KBC drive at Toyotetsu on Jan. 30.

It was very easy and very simple,” Rebecca said of her first experience. “I don’t know what I was expecting, but it went by really fast. I will definitely donate again.”

FDA Lifts Deferral for Potential Mad Cow Disease Exposure FDA Lifts Deferral for Potential Mad Cow Disease Exposure