Blood donors sought for Italian earthquake victims

Over 70 now feared dead.

Calls are going out all over Italy for blood donors to help face the emergency in central Italy which was struck by an earthquake in the early morning of 24 August. And in Milan’s suburb Cinisello Balsamo a collection centre has been set up for donations of foodstuffs, blankets, sleeping bags and clothing in Via Verdi 3.

The magnitude of the earthquake was 6.2, only slightly less severe than the one that devastated the Abruzzo city of L'Aquila in April 2009. It hit an isolated area of northern Lazio which borders on the regions of Abruzzo, the Marche and Umbria.

The epicentre was about 30 kms south-east of the pilgrim town of Norcia, birth place of St Benedict. At this time of year it is an area for holiday-makers returning home and for hikers in the nearby national parks in the central Apennines. Roads and communications into and around the area are difficult and it is estimated that there are over 70 dead. Rescue services are struggling to access the worst hit areas near villages of Amatrice and Accumoli.

AVIS, the Italian blood donors’ association, says every donation is welcome. But all donors must be screened to avoid the danger of introducing infected blood into the distribution.

Donors must respond in Italian to a questionnaire about their recent international travel. Potential donors who have been in areas where blood-borne infections are or have recently been rife are not allowed to give blood for a period which depends on the particular infection. In order to avoid spreading infections donations are subjected to lab tests before they enter the distribution chain.

Donations do not need to be made in the devastated area but are welcomed anywhere in Italy. Blood donations made locally are used first  and they are replenished with back-up supplies from other regions.

There is more information on the AVIS website, or by phone on 02 7063 5 020.