LifeSouth gets jump start of FDA’s new Zika testing guidelines

Published: Sep. 12, 2016 at 8:12 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 26, 2016 at 1:51 PM CDT
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(WAFF) - The Food and Drug Administration has revised blood donation guidelines because of concerns for the Zika virus in the United States and its territories. But one local blood bank was ahead of the curve.

LifeSouth District Community Coordinator Victoria Bell said the FDA's new rules just have two extra additives. One of them is a consent form that has to be signed by every volunteer donor.

The other is a new test tube in the donation process. Bell said it doesn't take any extra in the donation process because it comes all out at the same time. But there is an additional test tube that is strictly just for the Zika virus.

While the FDA only recently came out with these guidelines, LifeSouth says they have already been doing it for a while.

"We started the testing on Aug. 2. So we started bringing the awareness to the public a lot sooner.  And that gives them the opportunity to know that we are taking that extra step to make sure that our blood supply is healthy before we disperse it," said Bell

Bell said because of the uncertainty of the virus, LifeSouth was one of the first to take action for the sake of patients even before the FDA made their revisions.

"We were already making it aware to the public that if they had been in those areas for 28 days we asked them to defer," she said.

And the extra step doesn't take that long. Bell said the turnaround for the test tube for the Zika testing is about three days.

The tubes are sent to their Gainsville laboratory.

Most local hospitals in north Alabama use LifeSouth blood. Bell said this makes physicians, donors and patients breathe a little easier.

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