Zika Risk Disqualifies Blood Donors

Julia Sabey, Staff Writer

Blood Centers of the Pacific, an organization which helps 50,000 patients every year, drew blood from students on April 19 from 8am-1pm.

Leadership held sign-ups in the quad for a week prior to the blood drive. Students had to be at least 16 years old and meet height and weight requirements in order to donate.

Senior class president Fiona Stewart, who organized the blood drive in both 2015 and 2016, said, “We got about 20 blood donations, which is a lot less than last year because of the Zika virus.” While students who have traveled to countries with hazards like malaria have never been allowed to donate blood, the Zika virus made a particularly negative impact on the number of eligible students. If students had traveled to Mexico in the previous 28 days, they were not allowed to donate blood.

2 weeks prior to the blood drive, over 100 students had been in Mexico as part of the annual spring break Moraga Valley Presbyterian Church service project. Senior Maddie Koelzer said, “I wanted to give blood so I could save lives, but because I went to Mexico over spring break, I wasn’t allowed to because of the risk of Zika.”

The small gym was set up with reclining chairs, sterilizing stations, medical devices and even a food table to replenish students after their donation.

“Students shouldn’t participate in sports the day that they donate since they might be feeling weak afterwards,” Stewart said. “You donate 1 pint of blood and you have 20 pints in your body. The school nurse was there all day to talk to students and make sure they know what to do, eat afterward. Most students feel perfectly fine after they donate blood and are glad they save 3 lives.”

The Red Cross suggests that donors hydrate throughout the day, wear comfortable clothes, and include iron-rich foods in their diets.