Over the last month, wildfires in the West and hurricanes in the Gulf have added new hurdles in collecting lifesaving blood donations. Altogether, these disasters have forced the cancellation of more than 100 American Red Cross blood drives, resulting in over 2,700 uncollected blood, platelet and plasma donations. To assist other blood centers whose collections have been significantly impacted, the Red Cross has sent about 175 blood products to help meet emergency patient needs.
Recent disasters have only compounded ongoing challenges to maintaining a sufficient supply of blood products for hospital patients in need due to COVID-19. Blood drives have been canceled in unprecedented numbers during this pandemic as organizations, businesses and schools have temporarily closed or restricted access to these community locations where drives are held for the public.
To help restock hospital shelves, the Red Cross urges eligible individuals in parts of the country unaffected by these disasters to give blood, platelets or plasma for patients in need of transfusions. Please schedule an appointment to donate by using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting RedCrossBlood.org or calling 1-800-RED CROSS.
Unfortunately, these disasters are not over. Many wildfires continue to burn, threatening communities in the West. Several powerful storm systems are churning in the Atlantic which may make landfall along U.S. shores in the coming week. As a preparedness organization, it’s important the Red Cross continues to have blood products available for patients.
Every two seconds, someone in the U.S. needs blood. And those needs do not diminish during disasters or pandemics. That patient could be a grandparent battling COVID-19 in need of convalescent plasma, a child battling cancer, an accident victim being raced into the ER, or new mom with a complicated childbirth.
Through our national inventory system, the Red Cross has the ability to move blood around the country to wherever and whenever it is needed most. With the help of volunteer donors, the Red Cross stands ready to provide blood and blood products as needed in response to these ongoing emergencies both large and small.
COVID-19 antibody testing
The Red Cross is currently testing all blood, platelet and plasma donations for COVID-19 antibodies. The test may indicate if the donor’s immune system has produced antibodies to this coronavirus, regardless of whether they developed symptoms.
Red Cross antibody tests will be helpful to identify individuals who have COVID-19 antibodies and may qualify to be convalescent plasma donors. Convalescent plasma is a type of blood donation collected from COVID-19 survivors that have antibodies that may help patients who are actively fighting the virus. The Red Cross hopes that COVID-19 antibody testing will help provide our valued donors insight into whether they may have been exposed to this coronavirus.
Donors can expect to receive the results of their antibody test within 7 to 10 days through our Red Cross Blood Donor App or on our donor portal at RedCrossBlood.org.
COVID-19 blood donation safety
Donating blood products is essential to community health and eligible donors are encouraged to donate during the COVID-19 outbreak. Each Red Cross blood drive and donation center follows the highest standards of safety and infection control, and additional precautions – including temperature checks, social distancing and face coverings for donors and staff – have been implemented to help protect the health of all those in attendance.
For the safety of our donor community and in accordance with CDC guidelines, all donors are required to wear a face covering or mask. Please bring one to your donation. If you do not have one, a mask will be provided to you.
About blood donation
All blood types are needed to ensure a reliable supply for patients. A blood donor card or driver’s license or two other forms of identification are required at check-in. Individuals who are 17 years of age in most states (16 with parental consent where allowed by state law), 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 have to meet certain height and weight requirements.
Blood and platelet donors can save time at their next donation by using RapidPass® to complete their pre-donation reading and health history questionnaire online, on the day of their donation, before arriving at the blood drive. To get started, follow the instructions at RedCrossBlood.org/RapidPass or use the Blood Donor App.