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June 20, 2016: Zika Dilemma Creates Dire Need for Blood Donations

Alexia Egeland reports “The rapidly spreading Zika virus outbreak has prompted United Blood Services officials to request all eligible blood donors to get out to donate — and fast.

“Donors who have traveled recently to areas hit by the virus can’t donate, limiting supply. At the same time, officials say patient transfusion rates have surged 13 percent above normal levels.

“United Blood Services reported a 1½-day supply in Arizona on Wednesday, which is only half the amount they typically strive to keep on the shelf.

“"Sue Thew":, a spokeswoman for United Blood Services, said that blood can only be kept for so long because it has a short shelf life. So the agency has to rely on regular donations.

“Donated blood must make it through testing and processing before being available for transfusion. That takes 24 to 36 hours.

“We only have a blood supply of one and a half days, and it takes one and a half days to process today’s donations,” Thew said. “We can’t wait until the situation gets worse to alert the public because if we tell people the day we need blood, it won’t be available for use for another day and a half. That’s why it’s so important to get the word out now.”

Source: The Arizona Republic

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