Florida Blood Donors Stay the Course
July 26, 2002
When the news broke last week that two Tampa Bay residents had contracted HIV from blood transfusions, the people who collect blood for hospitals were worried that donors would get scared and stay away. Nobody contracts HIV by giving blood, but facts don't always stifle public fear. Now, one week later, Florida Blood Services (FBS) President J.B. Gaskins says blood donors are proving as dependable as ever. "We've had donors calling us and everything else. They understand this is not a donor issue," Gaskins said.
Regular donors have maintained the blood supply on an even keel, Gaskins said. The week before the HIV infections were revealed, 4,626 pints were donated. This week, 3,945 pints were donated. While that may look like a drop-off, FBS had expected only about 4,000 pints this week because of historical giving patterns at the sites it bloodmobiles visited.
Local hospitals on Thursday said patients were not expressing concern about the safety of the blood supply, nor were they canceling elective surgeries. Few even asked about it. "We were geared up to answer questions, but we never really got any," said John Dunn, spokesperson at Tampa General Hospital.
News of the tainted transfusions helped prompt Debra Drenth of Tampa to give blood again. She last donated on Sept. 12. "I know the Florida blood supply is short right now. I know my donation is needed. I'm type O, so the news probably makes it more important that they get good donations."
In other developments, lawyers for one of the two infected blood recipients, a 24-year-old man from Pinellas County, filed suit Thursday against FBS and Helen Ellis Memorial Hospital, where he was infected during abdominal surgery in March. Neither the hospital nor FBS would comment on the suit because neither had seen it Thursday evening. FBS has denied any wrongdoing. In a statement, the hospital expressed sympathy for the recipient. The other recipient is a bay area resident in his or her 60s.
St. Petersburg Times
07.26.02; Stephen Nohlgren; Wes Allison
This article was provided by U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update. Visit the CDC's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.