American Red Cross facing ‘severe blood shortage’ amid coronavirus outbreak; healthy donors needed

Coronavirus

courtesy: SC American Red Cross

NORTH CHARLESTON, SC (WBTW) – The American Red Cross is facing a “severe blood shortage” amid the coronavirus outbreak and donations from healthy people are needed.

“The American Red Cross now faces a severe blood shortage due to an unprecedented number of blood drive cancellations in response to the coronavirus outbreak,” a press release from the South Carolina ARC says. “Healthy individuals are needed now to donate to help patients counting on lifesaving blood.”

The release says to date, nearly 2,700 Red Cross blood drives have been canceled across the U.S. “due to concerns about congregating at workplaces, college campuses and schools amidst the coronavirus outbreak.” Because of these cancellations, there have been about 86,000 fewer donations as about 80% of the blood collected by the Red Cross comes from drives held at these locations.

In SC, 49 blood drives have been cancelled, which has resulted in about 1,337 fewer donations.

The release says volunteer donors are the only source of blood for those who need it.

“The Red Cross expects the number of cancellations to continue to increase, which is causing heightened concern for blood collection organizations and hospitals across the country. This blood shortage could impact patients who need surgery, victims of car accidents and other emergencies, or patients suffering from cancer.”

“In our experience, the American public comes together to support those in need during times of shortage and that support is needed now more than ever during this unprecedented public health crisis,” said Chris Hrouda, president, Red Cross Biomedical Services. “Unfortunately, when people stop donating blood, it forces doctors to make hard choices about patient care, which is why we need those who are healthy and well to roll up a sleeve and give the gift of life.”

The SC ARC says they are increasing safety and prevention measures at blood drives.

“We know that people want to help, but they may be hesitant to visit a blood drive during this time. We want to assure the public that blood donation is a safe process, and we have put additional precautions in place at our blood drives and donation centers to protect all who come out,” said Hrouda.

These new measures and precautions include:

  • Checking the temperature of staff and donors before entering a drive to make sure they are healthy.
  • Providing hand sanitizer for use before the drive, as well as throughout the donation process.
  • Spacing beds, where possible, to follow social distancing practices between blood donors.
  • Increasing enhanced disinfecting of surfaces and equipment.

“At each blood drive and donation center, Red Cross employees already follow thorough safety protocols to help prevent the spread of any type of infection, including:

  • Wearing gloves and changing gloves with each donor.
  • Routinely wiping down donor-touched areas.
  • Using sterile collection sets for every donation.
  • Preparing the arm for donation with an aseptic scrub.

“There is 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 worldwide,” the SC ARC adds.

“Volunteer donors are the unsung heroes for patients in need of lifesaving blood transfusions. If you are healthy, feeling well and eligible to give, please schedule an appointment to give now,” Hrouda also says.

To donate blood:

  • donors must be 17 years old (16 with parental consent where allowed by state law)
  • donors must weigh at least 110 pounds and be in good health
  • high school students and other donors under 18 years old must also meet certain height and weight requirements
  • “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 find a blood drive near you and to register to donate, click here.

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