Expected shortage increases need for blood donations

Paul Cobler

May 23, 2016 at 10:30 p.m.
Updated May 24, 2016 at 6 a.m.

The South Texas Blood and Tissue Center is preparing to feel the effects of a summertime Texas drought.

The drought isn't due to a lack of rain; it is actually from a lack of blood donations. As high school and college students, the suppliers of 25 percent of the total red blood cells donated to the center, go on summer vacation, the number of blood drives occurring in the region is expected to decline. Along with a quarter of the donations disappearing on summer vacation, fears of a possible Zika virus outbreak could combine to create a heavy blood donation shortage for the summer months.

"In June, our drives drop significantly, and that's a trend we expect every summer," South Texas Blood and Tissue Center spokeswoman Julie Vera said. "Something that is increasing is the expected impact of the Zika virus."

Vera said the blood bank has already turned away 600 people since implementing FDA guidelines to protect against Zika in March.

"We will start testing our blood donations for Zika in July," Vera said. "We are planning a public education plan around this to show people that it's safe and that we need everyone's help."

According to a press release from the South Texas Blood and Tissue Center, blood donations nationwide are at their lowest levels in 30 years and are down 21 percent in Texas since 2013.

"We are really just pulling out all the stops to get the awareness out there that this is a critical situation," Vera said. "Now, more than ever, we need people to step up and donate."


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