Mississippi Valley Regional Blood Center (MVRBC), provider of blood components to 88 hospitals in Illinois, Iowa, Missouri and Wisconsin, will begin asking prospective blood donors about travel to two counties in south Florida after reports of possible Zika Virus transmission not related to international travel.
Miami-Dade and Broward Counties will be added to the region impacted by the Zika Virus travel deferral, which already includes Mexico, Puerto Rico, Latin America, the Caribbean and portions of the Pacific Islands. Those who have traveled to the affected region are asked not to give blood for a period of 28 days after their return.
Blood donation in Miami-Dade and Broward Counties was temporarily suspended last week as the region’s leading blood provider, OneBlood, began implementing its response to possible mosquito-borne Zika Virus transmission. MVRBC participated in a national effort to supply the region by shipping a package of red blood cell units to OneBlood. OneBlood has now implemented donor screening for Zika Virus and, as a result, is permitted to resume blood collection in Miami-Dade and Broward Counties.
MVRBC is seeking appointments from all eligible blood donors to help combat the impact of the new travel deferral during a period when the rate of blood donation, already low during the summer months, has dropped over the last week. While there is not currently a shortage for local hospitals, appointments are needed at donor centers and mobile blood drives to avoid a shortfall in the blood supply and to ensure the blood center’s ability to respond to any further requests should there be any change to the region impacted by Zika Virus. To schedule an appointment to give blood at an MVRBC donor center or mobile blood drive, call (800) 747-5401 or schedule online at www.bloodcenterimpact.org.
Locally, MVRBC is the exclusive provider of blood and blood components to OSF Saint Anthony’s Health Center – Alton, Anderson Hospital -- Maryville, SSM Cardinal Glennon Children’s Medical Center – St. Louis and 19 additional hospitals throughout the St. Louis metropolitan region.
As a thank you to donors, the Blood Center is now providing a $5 Starbucks gift card for all who come to give blood at MVRBC Donor Centers (through Sept. 17). In addition, all who register to give blood at mobile blood drives or Donor Centers will receive automatic entry in the Blood Center’s summer-long drawing for a new Ford Fiesta (through Sept. 30). (Drawing made possible with support from Lindquist Ford and Clinton Auto Group – details at www.bloodcenter.org/win.)
“Donor presentation at our Donor Centers and other mobile blood drives has decreased over the past week,” said Amanda Hess, director of donor relations. “It is very important to keep in mind that area hospitals rely on the blood that we provide to care for patients. Even when the weather is hot and people are on end-of-summer vacations, those patients are relying on volunteer blood donors to step up and give blood.”
Last week the Blood Center saw a decrease in donations by 10-15 percent.
“The need for blood at local hospitals is constant throughout the year, but we know it can spike at any time,” Hess said. “In times of crisis, we’re reminded that it’s blood components that were already ‘on the shelves’ at the hospital that make the greatest difference.”