Iowa’s largest blood bank is shipping 200 units of blood to Puerto Rico as blood collections on that Caribbean island have been halted due to the fast-spreading Zika virus.
Nicole Hanger, spokeswoman for the Des Moines-based LifeServe Blood Center, says this is a highly unusual situation but Iowans are answering the desperate call for help.
“If other community blood centers across the country are not able to meet their patient demand due to snowstorms or different factors that can impact their blood supply, we are often asked to help within the United States,” Hanger says, “however, internationally, this is a very rare case.”
LifeServe supplies blood to more than 120 hospitals across Iowa, Nebraska and South Dakota and Hanger says our region remains the priority. “Obviously, our concern is to meet our patient needs locally first, however, if we are able to help, as this may continue, we will certainly be sending additional units to support Puerto Rico,” Hanger says. “Blood can’t be manufactured. It can only come from human beings. They’re in a critical time of need in that country right now and it’s important that we, as human beings, do the right thing and help save lives.”
Countries that are often Spring Break destinations are the ones where Zika is the biggest problem, so Hanger is asking Iowans to consider donating a pint now before they go on vacation.
“We are asking the community to make sure that we have a strong blood supply in case there is a situation where we need to send additional units,” Hanger says. “We’re asking our community to roll up their sleeves once again to help not only patients locally, but possibly across the globe as this Zika virus epidemic unfolds.”
For more information or to schedule a blood donation appointment, visit www.lifeservebloodcenter.org or call 800-287-4903.