Keep Charlotte hearts beating! Zika virus playing a part in blood shortage

- The blood supply is running dangerously low in Charlotte and nationwide. Experts said the Zika virus plays a role in that shortage.

On Monday, FOX 46 Charlotte walked into the Community Blood Center of the Carolinas on South Blvd. There, we met two folks who had their arms hooked up to give blood.

"I'm going to post on Instagram that I gave platelets. Then I'm going to challenge my followers to donate platelets," Laura Lueken, a 29 year old first-time platelet donor, said. 

"I've had family members with breast cancer and lung cancer. I have friends with kids at Levine’s Children's Hospital so I know there's a need,” Bill Steury, a regular blood and platelet donor, explained. 

But their arms aren't nearly enough to keep the blood flowing. Just to keep up with normal demand, the Community Blood Center of the Carolinas needs 250 people donating every day. That's been a problem.

“Zika is now on the national radar screen. We have a 28 day deferral for any donor that goes outside of the United States to a long list of areas plagued by Zika. So that leads to fewer donors being able to donate," Martin Grable, CEO and President of the Community Blood Center of the Carolinas, said. 

We can take action and get results to help end this blood shortage in our community. The Community Blood Center of the Carolinas said it needs 1,000 people to donate between now and September 5.

The need, however, is as steady as our heartbeat because the blood we give has an expiration date. Platelets are only good for five days!

"It is the blood on the shelf today that we will use to transfuse today, tomorrow, and the next day," Grable said. 

You can take action and get results by giving blood the process is completely free, but without it, it could cost somebody their life.

FOX 46 Charlotte is also getting results for the community. We'll be co-hosting a blood drive later with the Community Blood Center of the Carolinas. We'll let you know when that happens on air and online!

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