The American Red Cross greatly appreciates the generosity shown by the public, especially those that have presented to donate blood amid the coronavirus outbreak. Throughout the organization’s nearly 140-year long history, it has seen the American people step up to help during times of disaster and crisis. Now is no different. Volunteer blood donors have made it possible for the Red Cross to meet the immediate needs of patients relying on lifesaving blood products.
Unfortunately, during these unprecedented times there is no certain end date in this fight against the coronavirus and this public health crisis appears to be far from over. The Red Cross encourages individuals to keep scheduling blood donation appointments for the weeks ahead to ensure a stable blood supply throughout this pandemic. To support the nation’s blood supply, the Red Cross is urging blood drive hosts to maintain scheduled blood drives wherever possible.
This is the time to take care of one another. If you are healthy and feeling well, please make an appointment to donate mid-April and after by using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting RedCrossBlood.org or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).
As the coronavirus pandemic has grown here in the U.S., we have seen blood drive cancellations grow at an alarming rate. As of April 7, more than 15,000 Red Cross blood drives have been canceled across the country due to coronavirus concerns, resulting in some 450,000 fewer blood donations.
Donated blood is essential in the care of patients relying on lifesaving blood transfusions for surgeries, cancer treatments, car accidents and other emergencies. In accordance with public health guidance, blood donation keeps families safe by contributing to a readily available supply of blood for hospitals. There is no evidence and there are no reported cases of the coronavirus – or any respiratory virus – being transmitted by a blood transfusion.
The Red Cross has implemented additional precautionary measures out of an abundance of caution, including:
- Checking temperatures of staff and donors before entering a drive to make sure they are healthy.
- Providing hand sanitizer for use before entering the drive, as well as throughout the donation process.
- Following social distancing practices between donors including donor beds, as well as waiting and refreshment areas.
- Increasing enhanced disinfecting of surfaces and equipment.
- Emphasizing the importance of appointments to help manage the flow of donors at drives.
- Staff wearing basic face masks
It’s important to emphasize that 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.
- Standard safety protocols include:
- Wearing gloves and changing gloves often
- Routinely wiping down donor-touched areas
- Using sterile collection sets for every donation, and
- Preparing the arm for donation with an aseptic scrub
Helpful Hints to Know Before Donating Blood
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.
Three tips to help ensure a successful blood donation:
- Enjoy a protein rich meal
- Hydrate and Be well rested
- Wear a comfortable shirt with sleeves that can be rolled up easily
Individuals unable to donate blood, are urged to encourage a family member or friend to donate in their place. Or consider other ways to help volunteer at blood drives.
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 Red Cross Blood Donor App.