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Sunday, December 16 , 2018, 8:09 am | Fair 42º


United Blood Services Sending Blood to Puerto Rico Due to Zika Virus Related Limitations

United Blood Services California, the Santa Barbara area’s nonprofit blood provider, is part of a national effort to supply blood to Puerto Rico, one of the U.S. territories hardest hit by the Zika virus.

Puerto Rican blood centers have stopped collecting blood locally because of the outbreak there. Currently, there is no blood screening test available for Zika.

As of today, the Blood Systems network of community blood centers has shipped more than 620 units of red cells, platelets and plasma to Puerto Rico and expects to continue to send blood for the next several weeks.

United Blood Services California, part of the Blood Systems family, has contributed blood products shipped to Puerto Rico and will continue to help as needed.

“Once we’ve met the blood needs of patients here on the Central Coast and Southern region, we are more than willing to share any surplus with the residents of Puerto Rico,” said Scott Edward, director of donor recruitment of United Blood Services California. “Their situation is critical. Our donors are always willing to help save lives, whether it’s here or somewhere else.”

To maintain a safe blood supply here, United Blood Services California requires that donors who have returned from an area where Zika is present wait 28 days before they give blood.

In addition, donors should not donate if in the past four weeks they had symptoms from a known case of Zika (see symptoms below), had any two symptoms listed below following recent travel (within 2 weeks) to an area where Zika is present or have had sex with a man who had a known case of Zika in the past 3 months or has been in an area where Zika is present in the past 3 months.
The most common Zika symptoms are fever, rash, joint or muscle pain, eye pain or redness or headache.

“With spring break and summer travel coming up, we’re asking people to come donate before they visit a Zika-affected area,” Edward says. “Or, if you’re healthy and are not planning on traveling to one of these areas, please make an appointment today to donate blood soon.”

For a list of Zika-affected areas and an advisory for blood donors, go to www.UnitedBloodServices.org.

Appointments are available at www.UnitedBloodServices.org or by calling 877.827.4376. With each donation, donors receive a free total cholesterol test and earn points in United Blood Services’ Hero in Me rewards program.

Blood donation takes about an hour from check-in to refreshments. Donors can save about 20 minutes by completing their Fast Track Health History, which can be found at www.UnitedBloodServices.org, the day they donate.

Volunteer blood donors must be at least 16, weigh a minimum of 110 pounds and be in good health. Additional height/weight requirements apply to donors 22 and younger, and donors who are 16 must have signed permission from a parent or guardian.

For more information, visit UnitedBloodServices.org.

Sergio Coppa represents United Blood Services California.


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