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red cross goof up!

May 16, 2010

Dear Bob, I am (WAS) a regular platelet donor for red cross. Last time i donated platelets, i got a letter from them that they had detected HIV antibodies in my blood. (confirmatory test negative). I had no risk factors, so i was not worried. I repeated my HIV antibody test the next day, (same test that red cross uses) and it was negative! HOw is it possible that my antibodies disappeared in 1 day?? do you think red cross messed it up? I have appealed to redcross that they let me donated platelets again, ( i do directed transfusion to my cousin who has aplastic anemia), but they are refusing and put me on NO DONATE LIST! Can i still donated platelets through any other agency??

Response from Dr. Frascino


The Red Cross and other blood donation centers have certain rules that don't make a lot of sense scientifically. The rules were designed to protect the blood supply (not to diagnose HIV disease!). They use a series of very sensitive HIV-screening tests. At times, as in your case, they pick up a "false positive" test result. Even though follow-up testing could confirm this was indeed a "false" positive response, the Red Cross is not equipped to do such follow-up studies. Hence, they put you on a "NO DONATE LIST." I realize it's not fair, logical or scientific, but that's the way it is. If your confirmatory test was negative and follow-up screening HIV test, negative, there is no doubt you are HIV negative. However, it may be difficult to get you off the "no donate list." You could have your physician or an HIV specialist write a letter for you, explaining the follow-up testing, but there are no guarantees it will help. You can read more about blood donation rules in the archives of this forum. We have an entire chapter devoted to the topic.

Good luck.

Dr. Bob


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