LifeSouth: safety of blood supply is ‘top priority’

Published 11:37 pm Tuesday, May 15, 2012

LifeSouth Community Blood Centers is trying to reassure patients and donors that the safety of the blood supply the company provides is “top priority.”

Concern in Alabama was raised recently after a lawsuit was filed in Montgomery against LifeSouth pertaining to a patient contracting HIV due to a blood transfusion.

“Every donor, every time is medically screened prior to donation and every unit of blood collected by LifeSouth undergoes nine separate tests to screen for infectious diseases, and those tests are the most thorough and exacting possible, meeting all federal and industry standards,” said LifeSouth General Counsel Kim Kinsell.

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Kinsell said that although she can’t comment specifically on the lawsuit filed, the chance of a patient contracting a disease from a tested unit of blood are rare. However, even thorough tests have their limits.

The American Association of Blood Banks estimates that less than one in 1.9 million blood components testing negative is capable of transmitting HIV.

Kinsell said there is a small window of time between when someone contracts a disease and when a test is able to detect it.

“Scientifically, testing has narrowed that window considerably over the years, but it still exists,” Kinsell said.  “So, if a person donates within that window period of time, it would be impossible to detect the disease through testing.”

According to statistics from LifeSouth, the company supplied more than 350,000 blood components to more than 110 hospitals in the Southeast.

“The biggest danger we face is people not donating. Every day cancer and trauma patients and those undergoing surgery rely on that blood being there. Their lives literally depend on it. And every blood provider in the country uses the same testing as LifeSouth to assure that blood is safe,” said LifeSouth President and CEO Nancy Eckert.

LifeSouth is currently in need of every type of blood, according to Melinda Hinds, the district community development coordinator for LifeSouth.

Blood donations will be accepted in Troy at Walgreen’s from 2:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday and from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. in the Walmart parking lot on Saturday.