Inland Northwest Blood Center is asking potential donors who have traveled to the Caribbean, Mexico or Central or South America not to donate blood for 28 days after leaving those areas where the mosquito-borne Zika virus is becoming more widespread. A growing number of U.S. cases have been identified among travelers returning from affected areas.
“Zika virus could be transmitted by transfusion and there is no test to screen blood donors,” said Dr. Hany Kamel, vice president and corporate medical director for Blood Systems, the national office of INBC’s sister center, United Blood Services. “We are aware that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is discussing official guidance about donors who have traveled to these regions. Until that guidance is available, we are taking this cautionary step.”
The restriction 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, as will states in the north and Midwest where some residents routinely travel to Mexico and the Caribbean to escape winter weather.
The Zika virus hits right in the middle of cold and flu season, meaning Inland Northwest Blood Center is already struggling to receive the donations required to meet the needs of our region. INBC asks if you are healthy and 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.INBCSaves.org or by calling (800) 423-0151 and press 1. With each donation, donors receive a free total cholesterol test and earn points in INBC’s Hero in Me rewards program. Anyone who donates in the month of February will be entered for a chance to win the Heroes with Hearts package, which includes a one-night stay at Northern Quest, a companion massage at La Rive Spa, and dinner for two at Masselow’s Steakhouse.
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 or 17 must have signed permission from a parent or guardian. For more information, visit INBCSaves.org.
Inland Northwest Blood Center is part of America’s Blood Centers and has been this area’s non-profit community blood provider since 1945. INBC serves patients in 35 hospitals around the Inland Northwest.