Keeping the blood supply safe

Blood supply scares in the early 1980s sparked stringent FDA regulations to keep patients safe. Now the rules are even stricter with technicians testing for more than 11 different infections including hepatitis, west nile virus and HIV. While the process is not painless, donation blood can save a person's life.

"There is nothing in a laboratory nothing man-made that can substitute blood," said Kristy Morris, Manager of recruiting and collections at LifeShare Blood Center.

After a prick, blood pressure test and other careful screening the donor is ready to start pumping, but before the 1980s some of these screening methods were not mandated.

"Back when I first started in my career in blood banking in 1981 we knew there was a disease out there but we didn't know what it was," said Don Humble, Product Manager at LifeShare Blood Center, about HIV.

The virus invaded parts of the population and to protect the blood supply the FDA mandated new lab testing for blood donors.

"We also put them through a stringent screening process because we knew the signs and symptoms of the disease. We knew the high risk groups for the disease, so that's part of our donor selection process. We ask them certain questions," explained Humble.

Tests for HIV can pinpoint the virus days after a person is infected.

"Where in the past it may have been two or three weeks," said Humble.

"A lot of people don't realize that blood is actually a drug and we're a drug manufacturing company and we have to follow their strict guidelines," added Humble.

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