Zika testing to begin with blood donations

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Kinesiology freshman Alejandra Amador donates blood with the assistance of mobile phlebotomists Michelle Perez and Ariel Lopez from South Texas Blood & Tissue Center as education freshman Erika Atilano, who is also a donor, watches Tuesday afternoon during a mobile blood drive in the mall. Thirty-seven people attempted to donate, and 27 were accepted. Starting Sept 23, all donors must consent to be tested for the Zika virus before giving blood.  Photo by Alison Graef

Kinesiology freshman Alejandra Amador donates blood with the assistance of mobile phlebotomists Michelle Perez and Ariel Lopez from South Texas Blood & Tissue Center as education freshman Erika Atilano, who is also a donor, watches Tuesday afternoon during a mobile blood drive in the mall. Thirty-seven people attempted to donate, and 27 were accepted. Starting Sept 23, all donors must consent to be tested for the Zika virus before giving blood. Photo by Alison Graef

By Mario Parker Menchaca III

sac-ranger@alamo.edu

The office of student life is sponsoring the next campus blood drive Sept. 19-20.

South Texas Blood & Tissue Center will have mobile collection buses parked in the mall 9 a.m.-3 p.m. both days.

All donors will receive a free red T-shirt as well as a wellness checkup.

Visits take only about 10 minutes, and each unit donated can help save up to three lives, according to the center’s website at www.southtexasblood.org.

All donors must weigh at least 110 pounds and present a photo ID before donating.

Campus blood drives are vital because more than 27,000 units have been donated from students, which represents 22 percent of the yearly total blood collected, according to information on the website.

“Blood types O negative and AB negative are the most needed,” said mobile recruiter Michelle Stout Sept. 2 in a phone interview.

O negative is a universal blood type and can be used with the most patients in need.

AB negative is the rarest of blood types; many patients in need of this have a harder time acquiring this blood type, she said.

Donating blood is important because it is used for patients undergoing surgeries and transfusions as well as recovering from traumatic injury and cancer treatment, she said.

The center will test all donations for the Zika virus after the drive. Zika is a virus that can be spread through mosquito bites and sexual transmission.

If a pregnant woman contracts the virus, her fetus may be infected as well.

This can lead to major birth defects in newborns but only minor symptoms, including rash and fever, in adults.

“People usually don’t get sick enough to go to the hospital, and they very rarely die of Zika. Once a person has been infected with Zika, they are likely to be protected from future infections,” according to the website of the Centers for Disease Control.

“The FDA requires all donors to sign a consent form to be screened for the Zika virus; however, there is little risk of a widespread outbreak in the South Texas area,” Stout said. “This is a precaution; we can never be too safe.”

Stout added that if a blood sample does come back positive for Zika, then the donor would immediately be notified and referred to a physician for further examination.

The center wants to have blood on hand year-round in case of tragedy. After the domestic terror attack on the Orlando nightclub Pulse June 12, some 28,000 donors, the most for a single event since the attacks of 9/11, lined up at collection sites for several hours to give blood for the shooting victims, according to Time Magazine.

“We need to donate before such tragedies occur,” Stout said. “Blood needs to be collected, prepared and ‘on the shelf’ ready to deliver in times of need.”

More information can be found at the center’s website and by calling 210-249-4483.

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