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August 1, 2006 > Red Cross uses new cleansers for iodine allergies

Red Cross uses new cleansers for iodine allergies

by Sara O'Brien

While the American Red Cross calls for more blood donations, there are people who want to donate but are not able to do so. Reasons for temporary deferrals include recent travel to malaria-prone areas, low iron or an allergy to the iodine used to clean the arm before donation.

There is no new test for malaria or instant cure for low iron, but now, the Red Cross has alternative to iodine for those people who are allergic. A cleanser called ChloraPrep will be used to provide a safe alternative to donors while minimizing the possibility of bacterial contamination of the donor blood. Active ingredients are chlorhexidine gluconate (CHG) (2% w/v) and isopropyl alcohol (IPA) (70% v/v) in place of iodine.

While iodine allergies are rare, the Red Cross is delighted to be able to welcome back donors who have developed this allergy and they invite new donors to come in.

Sharon Harmon of Fremont developed an iodine allergy after being a blood donor for several years. Harmon says, "I'm looking forward to being able to donate blood again because I know how important it is. For a number of years I was an Emergency Medical Technician, working with neonatal transport and on a critical care transport unit. Some of these patients survived because blood was available. I look forward to being an active contributor." Harmon plans to donate blood this week.

The Red Cross has blood centers in Newark, Oakland, Pleasant Hill, Pleasanton and San Jose. Blood drives are regularly scheduled throughout Northern California. For more information or to make an appointment, call 800-GIVE-LIFE (800-448-3543) or visit To donate blood, you must be at least 17 years old, weigh a minimum of 110 lbs. and be in general good health.

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