September 14, 2012 at 2:09 pm

By Billie Rubin, Hemoglobin’s Catabolic Cousin, reporting from the labs of Stanford Blood Center

Cytomegalovirus (CMV) is a virus that 50 – 85% of adults have been exposed to at some point in their lives. It is passed by person-to-person contact with body fluids, and it is in the same family of viruses that cause chicken pox and mononucleosis. In healthy people, it rarely results in serious illness and can remain dormant in their bodies for the rest of their lives.

It can cause serious infection in babies, whether passed on through pregnancy or through a blood transfusion. Adults with weakened immune systems (cancer patients, transplant patients, HIV+ individuals) may also become severely infected. Because many cancer and transplant patients require the use of platelet products, we typically only provide hospitals with CMV-negative platelets. For this reason, testing negative for the virus is an important criterion for platelet donation eligibility.

A simple blood test will detect if a person has been infected with the virus. Stanford Blood Center was the first blood center in the world to routinely test for CMV and provide CMV-negative blood for immunocompromised patients.

For more information on our platelet program, please click here.