Why Right Now is The Right Time to Donate Blood

Story by Hannah. C. Wood / Red Cross Cascades Region

Last Wednesday, Oregon Governor Kate Brown announced new rules around mass gatherings, social distancing, and schools.

In the days following, as people heed those new safety measures, we have seen blood drive cancellations grow at an alarming rate. Through March 13, about 1,500 Red Cross blood drives have been canceled across the country due to coronavirus concerns, resulting in some 46,000 fewer blood donations. We expect that number to rise.

Blood drives are being canceled at workplaces, college campuses and schools as more people are being told to work remotely and practice social distancing.

But at the same time, hospitals are now bracing for a swell of patients due to COVID-19. So, the demand for blood for existing and new patients will also surge.

Per the Center for Disease Control, older adults are more susceptible to get sick from COVID-19 and are being urged to isolate for their own protection. Therefore, it is critical that all other healthy people that are feeling well donate blood. The Red Cross is urging people to donate blood now –especially Type 0 and Platelet donor as blood transfusions are needed every two seconds.

March 11, 2019. Monroe Carell Jr Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt, Nashville, Tennessee. Photographs from blood bank at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, blood donations at Red Cross on Monday, March 11, 2019 in Nashville, Tenn. Photo by Sanford Myers/American Red Cross

During regular times (i.e. not now) about 37% of the population is eligible to donate blood, but only about 10% does.

Why should people feel safe when donating blood during the coronavirus pandemic?
Blood donation centers are regulated by the FDA . The Red Cross already follows stringent cleanliness and medical protocols.  

But out of an abundance of caution here are additional steps the Red Cross is taking to ensure the safety of blood donors:

•           Pre-donation donor temperature screening at all drives

•           Pre-donation Coronavirus information reading materials provided to donors 

•           Gloves worn at all times throughout the reception and hospitality process

•           Enhanced disinfecting of all spaces

•           Six feet separation whenever possible, in reception, waiting and refreshment areas

•           Donor deferrals based on travel, symptoms, and exposure

March 11, 2019. Monroe Carell Jr Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt, Nashville, Tennessee. Photographs from blood bank at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, blood donations at Red Cross on Monday, March 11, 2019 in Nashville, Tenn. Photo by Sanford Myers/American Red Cross

Lastly, County health officials are in daily contact with the Red Cross. Dr. Randy Covin, Medical Director for the Pacific Northwest Blood Region, has been in daily contact with state and local officials. He says, “County health officials have stated to me the processes and deferrals the Red Cross currently has in place will work well to keep people safe.”  It’s important to emphasize that there are no data or evidence that this coronavirus can be transmitted by blood transfusion, and there have been no reported cases of transfusion transmission for any respiratory virus including this coronavirus.

To make a blood or platelet donation appointment:

How long does it take?

The appointment may take up to an hour, but the actual donation only takes about 8-10 minutes. If you complete the RapidPass®, it shaves off 15 minutes as you complete the pre-donation reading and health history questionnaire online, on the day of donation, from a mobile device or computer. Go to RedCrossBlood.org/RapidPass or use the Red Cross Blood Donor App.

What’s in it for you?

It’s something to do to help others in real need, you get to leave your house and get free snacks!

To find a blood drive in your area, visit the Red Cross locator https://www.redcrossblood.org/give.html/find-drive.

“Keep giving, keep hosting blood drives,” said Chris Hrouda, President, Red Cross Blood Services. “Patients across the country need our help.”

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