The American Red Cross is urging “healthy, eligible individuals” to donate blood or platelets to boost the country’s supply amid rising coronavirus concerns.
The request comes as cold and flu season has presented its own challenges for the U.S. to keep up its blood supply, the organization said in a statement Tuesday.
The Red Cross anticipates that as the number of COVID-19 cases grows across the country, the number of eligible donors could dwindle.
“We’re asking the American people to help keep the blood supply stable during this challenging time. As communities across the country prepare for this public health emergency, it’s critical that plans include a readily available blood supply for hospital patients,” Chris Hrouda, president, Red Cross Blood Services, said in a statement. “As fears of the coronavirus rise, low donor participation could harm blood availability at hospitals, and the last thing a patient should worry about is whether lifesaving blood will be on the shelf when they need it most.”
Aside from its standard blood donation requirements, the Red Cross is asking that those who want to give right now are healthy and feel well at the time of their donation.
The Red Cross says the virus should not deter people from giving or receiving blood donations. There is no data or evidence COVID-19 can be transmitted by blood transfusion, officials said.
“There have been no reported cases of transfusion transmission for any respiratory virus including this coronavirus worldwide,” the Red Cross said.
However, anyone who has traveled to “China and its special administrative regions, Hong Kong and Macau, as well as Iran, Italy, and South Korea;” has been diagnosed with COVID-19; or has come in contact with a person who has or is suspected to have the coronavirus is asked to hold-off on making a donation for 28 days, according to the statement.
“At each blood drive and donation center, Red Cross employees follow thorough safety protocols including wearing gloves, routinely wiping down donor-touched areas, using sterile collection sets for every donation, and preparing the arm for donation with an aseptic scrub,” the statement says. “These mitigation measures will help ensure blood recipient safety, as well as staff and donor safety in reducing contact with those who may potentially have this respiratory infection.”
Donors can schedule an appointment with the Red Cross by calling 1-800-RED-CROSS (733-2767), using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, or visiting RedCrossBlood.org. Officials said Type O and platelet donations are especially needed.
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