AURORA, Ill., Nov. 28, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Heartland Blood Centers, the leading supplier of donated blood to more than 70 Chicago-area hospitals, begins testing for the Zika virus on all donated blood.
The Food and Drug Administration released guidelines in August 2016 requiring most blood centers across the U.S. to begin testing for the virus by Friday, Nov. 18. Heartland Blood Centers and their Versiti affiliates began on or before the November 18th deadline. Dr. Julie Cruz, Medical Director at Heartland Blood Centers, says, "In just 12 short weeks, teams of associates across the Versiti affiliates provided incredible support and extra effort to enable the donor testing lab in Indianapolis to implement Zika testing. "This newly required test impacted many departments in addition to the testing lab staff. We were able to purchase and validate equipment, train staff, and develop the processes and procedures necessary to begin testing the blood supply for Zika virus. This remarkable feat was achieved by the collaboration of highly skilled, professional associates to achieve controlled change under an aggressive timeline. Every affiliate had a hand in helping us meet the mandate and this situation is an example of the power of affiliation. We truly are better together." This testing is a new protection against the Zika virus and because all donations are now tested for the virus, no one will be deferred if they've been to a Zika risk area. This could mean a two percent decrease in deferred donors. If test results show that the donor may have a Zika virus infection Heartland Blood Centers will notify the donor only so they can discuss these results with their primary care physician. About Heartland Blood CentersHeartland Blood Centers, established in 1943, is a not-for-profit, independent blood center serving the Greater Chicago area and Northwest Indiana. Heartland operates under a volunteer donor system, its first commitment is to meet local blood needs and 100 percent of blood donated is returned to the communities served by Heartland. As participants in a nationwide resource sharing program, Heartland stands ready to assist other parts of the country during severe blood shortages, national emergencies and increased demands by the armed services. Visit heartlandbc.org or call 1-800-7 TO-GIVE for more information or to donate blood. Logo - http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20161128/443225LOGO