New questions designed to eliminate tainted blood - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

New questions designed to eliminate tainted blood

June 26, 2003

Albany-- The Red Cross is screening for West Nile and SARS. If you've been ill with SARS in the last 28 days, you can't give blood.

Two weeks ago, Red Cross workers started asking donors this question: "In the past week, have you had a fever with a headache?"

If the answer is yes, that's enough to eliminate someone from donating that day, even if it's not a confirmed case of West Nile.

Of course, that question should not eliminate any potential donors, since the disease hasn't shown up in the United States.

"They are just really trying to limit anybody in contact with someone like that from donating blood because we really don't know how readily it is transmitted," said Patsy McMath of the Albany Red Cross. "We don't want to do anything to harm the blood supply so to safe guard the recipients we have a questionnaire about it."

The Red Cross has been asking questions about SARS for four weeks. The new questions have not stopped people from donating blood, the Albany Blood Bank has seen an increase in donors in recent weeks.

But there is still only a half-day supply of O-negative, the universal blood type.

posted at 5:20PM by dave.miller@walb.com