By Jonesa Rodriguez - March 20, 2020
Organizations across the country are asking healthy individuals to continue to donate blood to avoid a blood shortage. This comes as many are avoiding public areas and practicing social distancing due to the spread of the coronavirus.
“We need people to start turning out in force to give blood,” said Peter Marks, M.D., Ph.D., director of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research. Over the past weeks, blood drives have been canceled causing blood centers to experience a significant drop in donations.
Every two seconds someone in the U.S. needs blood, according to the American Red Cross. The recent decline in donations has placed a sudden burden on blood banks, resulting in a limited ability to adequately replenished the nation’s blood supply. Blood organizations are growing concerned that they may not be able to meet their patients’ needs.
This shortage not only has an impact on blood banks and hospitals, but also affects individuals who need surgery, car accident victims and those fighting cancer. According to Dr. Kaaron Benson, medical director of the blood bank at Moffitt Cancer Center, routine surgeries may be canceled or postponed, blood transfusions may be delayed and patients may have to receive less than the optimal quantity of blood if blood supplies become depleted.
As more blood drives are expected to be canceled in the coming weeks, healthcare officials are reminding everyone of the importance of donating blood and the benefits it has on the community.
“Blood cannot be created or synthesized but must come from healthy volunteers,” said Benson. “By donating to your community, you ensure that there is blood on the shelf whenever there is a need. When people donate regularly, it provides blood for you, your family and your community.”
Blood centers are ensuring the public that donating blood is still a safe procedure and the coronavirus does not pose any known risk to blood donors during the donation process. Blood centers are regulated by the FDA and must follow specific guidelines to ensure safe blood is available for patients at all times.
“All blood collection equipment and supplies are sterilized and only used once. Blood collection agencies are working to prevent any transmission of COVID-19 to their donors or their staff members,” said Benson.
In efforts to avoid a national emergency, the blood bank community is encouraging organizations to continue hosting blood drives and asking eligible and healthy donors to make an appointment to provide lifesaving blood products to patients.
Scheduling a blood donation is the best way to avoid having to sit and wait for your blood donation. Donations can be scheduled on the OneBlood website.