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September 6, 2011 at 7:54 AMComments: 2 Faves: 0

How safe is our blood supply?

By Beryl More Blogs by This Author

Have you ever wondered how safe our blood supply is?  Maybe you have never even thought about it.  I’ve donated blood my entire adult life.   I know first hand how critical this life saving process is.  On the battle fields of Vietnam I learned first hand why it is so important to have an adequate blood supply.  I also know of several people who are alive today as a result of someone else’s blood.

I’d never questioned the safety of the blood bank until about 3 years ago when I was rejected from donating blood because of a substance that showed up in my blood as a result of me taking the product AVODART.  I was told I could not donate blood for 6 months after I stopped taking AVODART.  I had two concerns when I was called by the blood bank and was told they rejected my blood.  My first concern was if they won’t give my blood to someone else because of this medication then why am I taking it?  My second concern was that I’d given blood previously while taking AVODART so why didn’t it show up before?  I started to wonder how safe the testing or screening process was. 

Today, after reading a report from Reuters regarding a tick-borne infection known as Babesiosis that is becoming a growing threat to the U.S. blood supply I’m asking those safety questions again.  According to a 31-year study by The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention this parasitic infection may be increasing in our blood supply. And to makes things worse the FDA says there is no approved diagnostic test to detect the infection before people donate blood.  I wonder what else is going on with the blood supply that we don’t know about?

Babesia infections are marked by anemia, fever, chills and fatigue, but they can also cause organ failure and death.  Babesia is a rare disease that occurs naturally in Massachusetts, New York, Connecticut, Minnesota, Rhode Island, New Jersey and Wisconsin in the spring and summer.

CDC researchers indicate "Babesia microti has become the most frequently reported transfusion-transmitted parasite in the United States”.  It is more prevalent than malaria infections.  A quote from the CDC, "Our findings underscore the year-round vulnerability of the U.S. blood supply….”

To deter transfusion-linked Babesiosis, the CDC in January said public health departments should report all cases of the infections to the CDC.  ??????  I thought all cases of blood related stuff was reported? 

Does anyone else share my concern?

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  • I definitely share your concern! I actually choose to remain bloodless when it comes to medical procedures for religious reasons, but the complications that come with blood are reason enough to not accept a blood transfusion. Bloodless surgery has come super far in the past few decades with inventions like electronic cauterization and cell saver technology. Surgeons can control bleeding much more efficiently and recycle blood in your own body much easier than ever before! And you're not risking the HIV and other diseases. Not dying of a horrible disease ftw!!

  • Yes, I share in your concern. My husband recently had knee surgery and they asked him first but with his permission they extracted his own plasma and then used it on himself during the final stages of the surgery, to omit any outsider use! I thought that was pretty cool. They said using his own plasma would help in the healing process as well. I know it's not quite the same as blood but along the same idea!

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