Blood Banks Cite Zika Virus as Reason for Shortage

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ROSEVILLE -- Blood banks all over the United States are making a desperate call for help. Supply sits at a 20 year low.

One blood bank is giving our free State Fair passes, to entice more people to donate.

"We're projecting to be almost 5,000 pints short of what we call an ideal inventory," Vicki Wolfe from BloodSource said.

Currently, BloodSource, which collects blood in Northern and Central California, barely has a two-day supply.

Stephanie Dement heard about the shortage, and immediately came to Maidu Community Center to donate.

"There could be someone 30 minutes from now that has a disaster and they might need blood, and if I can be a simple part of that, unknowingly, I feel blessed," Dement said.

Blood Source officials said the reason for that shortage is actually a perfect summer storm.

"We're seeing increased summer usage, so that with the regular donors being away and the usual summer challenges, that's the cause for the low," Wolfe said.

School is out, which means no school blood drives. A large chunk of regular donors are on vacation.

And new this summer, the FDA is recommending blood banks to turn away those who have visited areas affected by the Zika Virus.

People can get Zika through sex with an infected man, and the virus can also be passed from a pregnant woman to her fetus.

The concern is the virus spreading through a blood transfusion.

"They travel the southern border of the US, Mexico, Central America, there are about 30 countries if you have visited, you will be deferred for a month after you get back," Wolfe said.

So far, BloodSource centers in the Sacramento region have turned away about 250 potential donors because of this reason alone.

Brian Shaffer was going to the library next door, when he saw the blood drive sign.
He decided to give blood for the first time in 10 years.

"I think there is enough going on, that causes people to believe there is a need for blood. There are no mass casualties, anything like that. But there have been a lot of little things going on that started me thinking, that this is something that is a continuing need no matter what," Shaffer said.

Just remember, one little poke could save a life.

The Maidu community center is also adding a secondary incentive. If you donate today by 7 pm, you will receive a free California state fair ticket.

For more information on donating blood, go to bloodsource.org

If you cannot come to the blood drives, call 866-822-5663 to set up an appointment on a day that works for you.