GREENSBORO, N.C. — The American Red Cross is facing a severe blood shortage due to growing coronavirus concerns. The Red Cross say about 2,700 blood drives have been canceled in the U.S., resulting in some 86,000 fewer blood donations. In the Greater Carolinas Region, at least 116 blood drives have been canceled, resulting in nearly 4,000 fewer blood donations. The increase in blood drive cancellations come as people avoid public activities and locations, including workplaces, college campuses, schools, and more.
The Red Cross is urging healthy individuals to donate as soon as possible to help patients counting on lifesaving blood. More than 80% of the blood the Red Cross collects comes from blood drives held across the country. The Red Cross is adding appointment slots at donation centers and expanding capacity at many community blood drives across the country over the next few weeks to ensure ample opportunities for donors to give. If you want to help give the gift of life, you can schedule an appointment with the Red Cross by visiting RedCrossBlood.org, using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, calling 1-800-RED-CROSS, or enabling the Blood Donor Skill on any Alexa Echo device.
The American Red Cross offers the following information for volunteer donors, blood drive safety, and blood donation process:
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.”
Blood Drive Safety:
“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.
The Red Cross has implemented new measures to ensure blood drives and donation centers are even safer for our donors and staff, including:
- 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.
Health officials say there is no data or evidence that COVID-19 can be transmitted by blood transfusion, and there have been no reported cases of transfusion transmission for any respiratory virus including this coronavirus worldwide.
“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,” added Hrouda.
Blood Donation Process:
To donate blood, individuals need to bring a blood donor card or driver’s license or two other forms of identification that 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 must 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.