Coronavirus Threatening Blood Supplies, Red Cross Asks Healthy Persons to Give Blood
Cold and flu season has already impacted the nation’s ability to maintain its blood supply. As the number of coronavirus cases grows in the U.S., the number of people eligible to give blood for patients in need could decrease further. The Northeastern Pennsylvania Chapter of the American Red Cross has put out a plea for healthy, eligible individuals who are feeling well to give blood or platelets to help maintain a sufficient blood supply and prevent shortages as concerns about the outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019, or COVID-19, rise in the U.S.
“We’re asking the American people to help keep the blood supply stable during this challenging time. As communities across the country prepare for this public health emergency, it’s critical that plans include a readily available blood supply for hospital patients,” said Chris Hrouda, president, Red Cross Blood Services. “As fears of coronavirus rise, low donor participation could harm blood availability at hospitals, and the last thing a patient should worry about is whether lifesaving blood will be on the shelf when they need it most.”
Blood donors with type O blood and platelet donors are especially needed right now.
Donating blood is a safe process and people should not hesitate to give or receive blood. There are no data or evidence that this coronavirus can be transmissible by blood transfusion, and there have been no reported cases worldwide of transmissions for any respiratory virus, including this coronavirus, from a transfusion.
“Keep giving, keep hosting blood drives,” said Hrouda. “Patients across the country need our help.”
The Red Cross only collects blood from individuals who are healthy and feeling well at the time of donation – and who meet other eligibility requirements, available at RedCrossBlood.org.
At each blood drive and donation center, Red Cross employees follow thorough safety protocols including wearing gloves, routinely wiping down donor-touched areas, using sterile collection sets for every donation, and preparing the arm for donation with an aseptic scrub. These mitigation measures will help ensure blood recipient safety, as well as staff and donor safety in reducing contact with those who may potentially have this respiratory infection.
The Red Cross has implemented new blood donation deferrals out of an abundance of caution. Individuals are asked to postpone their donation for 28 days following: Travel to China and its special administrative regions, Hong Kong and Macau, as well as Iran, Italy and South Korea; Diagnosis of COVID-19, contact with a person who has or is suspected to have the virus.
As the situation evolves, the Red Cross will continue to evaluate all emerging risks in collaboration with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and industry partners to determine if additional intervention strategies are needed. Together, we stand ready to keep the American public informed and prepared.
Upcoming blood donation opportunities in Monroe County:
3/27/2020: 12 p.m. - 5 p.m., Blakeslee Community Center, Routes 115 and 940
3/20/2020: 12 p.m. - 5 p.m., Reformed Church of Bushkill, 5969 Milford Road
3/25/2020: 1 p.m. - 6 p.m., Cornerstone Community Church, 388 Polk Township Road
3/20/2020: 12 p.m. - 5 p.m., Kalahari Resort, Convention Center, 250 Kalahari Blvd.
3/30/2020: 9 a.m. - 2 p.m., Forever Fitness, 392 Manor Drive
3/17/2020: 12 p.m. - 5 p.m., Gray Chevrolet, 1245 N. Ninth St.
3/18/2020: 9:30 a.m. - 2:30 p.m., Eastern Monroe Public Library, 1002 N. Ninth St.
A blood donation takes about an hour from start to finish, but the actual donation itself only takes about 8-10 minutes. Donors can also save up to 15 minutes at the blood drive by completing a RapidPass®. With RapidPass®, donors complete the pre-donation reading and health history questionnaire online, on the day of donation, from a mobile device or computer. To complete a RapidPass®, follow the instructions at RedCrossBlood.org/RapidPass or use the Red Cross Blood Donor App.
To donate blood, individuals need to bring a blood donor card or driver’s license or two other forms of identification that are required at check-in. Individuals who are 17 years of age (16 with parental consent), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood. High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also must meet certain height and weight requirements.