As the world marks three months since this coronavirus was declared a pandemic, the American Red Cross recognizes and celebrates blood and platelet donors who have rolled up a sleeve to help patients during this crisis.
Many things have changed since March – we constantly wash our hands; we stay socially distant and we wear face coverings. The process for blood donation has also adapted to ensure we are protecting our donors and staff during this crisis. But one thing has not changed, and that is the generosity of our selfless donors. Even during this unprecedented time, blood donors have risen to the challenge to help save a life.
Donors like Susan Aplin, from Columbia, who just donated for her 50th time.
“It was a very nice milestone. I absolutely wish I had started giving sooner. I want to get to 100,” said Aplin. “I appreciate the recognition and effort the Red Cross does to mark those milestones.”
Aplin described some of the safety measures the Red Cross has put into place to keep donors safe. Measures that made her comfortable to come out and continue to give blood.
“I have been hesitant to give. I try to give every 10 weeks,” said Aplin. “I came with my daughter. There was a woman at the door that took our temperatures. Right at the door. You couldn’t step inside until you were screened.”
Giving Blood During Coronavirus
Donors are asked to schedule an appointment prior to arriving at Red Cross blood drives and donation centers and are required to wear a face covering or mask while there in alignment with new CDC public guidance.
Each Red Cross blood drive and donation center follows the highest standards of safety and infection control. To ensure the health of staff and donors, precautions include:
- Checking temperatures 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.
- Following social distancing between donors including entry, donation and refreshment areas.
- Ensuring face masks or coverings are worn by both staff and donors.
- Routinely disinfecting surfaces, equipment and donor-touched areas.
- Wearing gloves and changing gloves often.
- Using sterile collection sets and an aseptic scrub for every donation.
“They were cleaning everything, and everyone was in masks. They are taking this serious,” Aplin explained. “I can’t think of anything that could have been done differently to make it safer.”
The need for blood is constant, and the Red Cross needs the help of our dedicated donors today and in the days ahead as the blood supply has once again fallen to critical levels. Blood donations are urgently needed right now to help prevent a summer shortage as hospitals resume all surgical procedures and patient treatments that were temporarily paused earlier this spring in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s important to remember that blood is perishable and cannot be stockpiled.
“It is so important. Just because all this is going on doesn’t mean there are not people in need right now,’ said Aplin.
If you are feeling well, please make an appointment to give by using the Blood Donor App, visiting RedCrossBlood.org, calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or enabling the Blood Donor Skill on any Alexa Echo device.
About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or cruzrojaamericana.org, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.