February 12, 2016
San Francisco, CA – Blood Centers of the Pacific, this area’s non-profit blood provider, has a third line of defense to safeguard the blood supply from Zika virus. In addition to following the two standard recommendations of the AABB (formerly the American Association of Blood Banks) Blood Centers of the Pacific will use its computer system to defer blood donors who provide information about travel within the past 28 days to the Caribbean, Mexico or Central or South America.
In line with the AABB recommendations, Blood Centers of the Pacific advises donors to alert the blood center if they develop symptoms that might indicate a viral infection, like Zika, within 14 days of their donation. The CDC lists the most common Zika symptoms as fever, rash, joint pain and conjunctivitis (red eyes). The blood center also has posted signs instructing people to delay their donation if they’ve recently traveled to areas where the mosquito-borne Zika virus is spreading.
“The situation is complex and it is changing rapidly,” said Dr. Hany Kamel, vice president and corporate medical director for Blood Systems, the national office of Blood Centers of the Pacific. “As we ask every donor our standard questions about travel, we will identify those who should wait. Our computer system will allow us to flag them so they will not be able to donate with us until they’ve been back in the U.S. for 28 days.”
The travel waiting period is expected to reduce the number of eligible donors across the U.S. by an estimated 2 percent, according to a recent survey of community blood centers. Blood centers in states along the border with Mexico will be particularly affected.
“This hits right in the middle of cold and flu season,” said Kent Corley, Public Relations Associate of Blood Centers of the Pacific. “If you’re healthy and are not affected by this post-travel waiting period, please make an appointment today to donate blood in the coming weeks.”
Appointments are available at www.bloodcenters.org or by calling 888-393-4483. With each donation, donors receive a free total cholesterol test and earn points in Blood Centers of the Pacific Hero in Me rewards program.
Blood donation takes about an hour from check-in to refreshments. Donors can save about 20 minutes by completing their Fast Track Health History the day they donate. It is available at www.bloodcenters.org.
Volunteer blood donors must be at least 16, weigh a minimum of 110 pounds and be in good health. Additional height/weight requirements apply to donors 22 and younger, and donors who are 16 must have a signed permission from a parent or guardian. For more information, visit www.bloodcenters.org.
Blood Centers of the Pacific has been this area’s non-profit community blood provider since 1941, and serves patients in more than 50 hospitals in from Santa Cruz to the Oregon Border.