Each day life-saving blood transfusions are needed in hospitals and emergency treatment facilities across the U.S. With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, donations of blood, platelets and plasma are badly needed to help healthcare centers continue to care for patients.
Natural disasters, such as multiple hurricanes and wildfires, coupled with declines in donations due to fear of contracting the virus in 2020 have critically impacted the nation’s blood supply. Even temporary disruptions can have long-reaching consequences that endanger lives so we all must support donation in our communities.
Hope for COVID-19
In response to the dire need for blood and to prevent the spread of COVID-19, collection organizations around the nation have implemented additional safety procedures. For example, along with enhanced disinfection of equipment and surfaces, the American Red Cross requires temperature checks and face masks for donors.
There is no evidence that COVID-19 can be transmitted via blood transfusions. However, it is still important that potential donors are healthy and feel well. If you have a fever, a cough or shortness of breath, you should not go to a donation center or participate in a blood drive until you feel better. If you have had contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19 or displaying symptoms within the past 14 days, you should wait. If you have been suspected of having or have been diagnosed with COVID-19, you need to wait 28 days after full recovery to give blood.
Many collection organizations are testing donations for virus antibodies to find out if donors have had a previous COVID-19 infection. Donors who test positive for these antibodies may be able to help patients fighting the disease. Plasma from recovered, symptom-free donors is used for patient treatment and according to the American Red Cross, one donation can help up to four patients recover from the virus.
While all blood types are needed, there is a greater need for the following blood and donation types:
- Type O negative: This blood type can be transfused to almost anyone, and is what doctors reach for in trauma situations.
- Type B negative: This blood type can be transfused to both type B positive and B negative patients.
- Type AB: This plasma type can be transfused to almost anyone and can be donated through a platelet or plasma donation.
What can you do?
Hosting a blood drive is a simple way to make a great impact on the current shortage. They are easily organized for large groups or companies and most collection centers will bring everything needed to be successful. In addition to special precautions to ensure the health and safety of participants, most centers have adapted some processes for blood drives, such as adding outdoor areas for registration. If hosting a blood drive is not an option, make an individual donation to help. To find a collection center and to schedule an appointment to donate, you can contact the American Red Cross at http://www.redcrossblood.org or call 1-800-RED CROSS.