Changes in malaria deferrals impacts local blood donors

Staff Report

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has revised its risk criteria for malaria for individuals who travel or live outside of the U.S. and Canada.

Effective immediately, all donors who travel to any part of Quintana Roo, Mexico, will be deferred from donating blood for one year from departure from Mexico. This includes the resort areas of Cancun, Cozumel and Playa Del Carmen.

Residents of Quintana Roo will be deferred for three years. Until now, there were still resort areas that did not require deferrals.

Jennifer Bowman, public relations and marketing manager for the Rock River Valley Blood Center (RRVBC) said: “The CDC has made a variety of changes, but the changes related to Mexico will likely have the most impact on RRVBC and the blood donors in this community. The Mexican Caribbean area is a great travel location and top choice for Midwesterners. We feel that this deferral may impact our ability to recruit blood donors, which could affect the stability of the blood supply. Our first concern is always safety, but the donor experience is vital. We don’t want long-time donors to be upset when they are suddenly deferred from donating, and we don’t want them to waste a trip to RRVBC or a mobile blood drive only to be turned away.”

To find out if your travel will indeed defer you from donating blood, contact RRVBC toll-free at 877-RRVBC-99.

In the meantime,” Bowman said, “think about donating blood before you head to Mexico for vacation.”

Donating blood is safe and simple. You are most likely able to donate if you are at least 17 years old (16-year-olds may donate with parental consent), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in general good health. People taking medications are not necessarily disqualified. Four community donor centers are located throughout the area (Belvidere, Freeport and Rockford), as well as many mobile blood drives. Log on to for hours, directions and mobile blood drive schedules.

RRVBC serves as a centralized, community blood center and is the sole provider of blood products and services to Beloit Memorial Hospital, Edgerton Hospital and Health Services, FHN, Mercy Harvard Hospital, OSF Saint Anthony Medical Center, Rochelle Community Hospital, Rockford Health System, SwedishAmerican Health System and SwedishAmerican Medical Center — Belvidere. For more details or to make an appointment to donate blood, call toll-free at 877-RRVBC-99 or find RRVBC on the web at

From the Feb. 8-14, 2012, issue

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