“’As for of its commitment to ensuring the safest blood supply possible, the South Texas Blood & Tissue Center (STBTC) has begun testing blood donations for the Zika virus. STBTC is one of only a handful of blood centers in the nation currently testing for Zika.
“’We believe this is the best way to safeguard the people of South Texas who need blood transfusions,’ said Elizabeth Waltman, chief operating officer of STBTC. ‘Taking a precautionary approach will optimize patient safety and help maintain blood availability for everyone.’
“Testing for the Zika virus is being done by QualTex Laboratories, which like STBTC is a subsidiary of San Antonio-based nonprofit BioBridge Global, with testing labs here and in Norcross, Georgia. Zika testing is being done in the QualTex labs in Georgia, because of space and capacity requirements for the testing equipment.
“The Zika virus test is a new technology developed by the biotech Roche. It has been approved for clinical trial by the Food and Drug Administration under an investigational new drug (IND) protocol, which means donors must give written consent for their blood to be tested, and results will be used in research.
“’We’re urging anyone who donates to sign the consent form,’ Waltman said. ‘The testing does not change anything about the donation process, except for this one extra signature. And it will go a long way toward keeping everyone in South Texas safer.’”