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Red Cross Experiencing Severe Blood Shortage

Healthy donors urged to donate blood, platelets or AB plasma

 

March 26, 2020



The American Red Cross is closely monitoring the outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), and supporting public health agencies to help communities prepare.

Right now, American Red Cross faces a severe blood shortage due to an unprecedented number of blood drive cancellations during this coronavirus outbreak. Healthy individuals are needed to donate now to help patients counting on lifesaving blood, platelets or AB Elite plasma.

The Red Cross also urges organizations to maintain scheduled blood drives. Donating is a safe process and people should not hesitate to give or receive blood or platelets. We have implemented additional precautions to ensure safety of our donors and staff.

This blood shortage could impact patients who need surgery, victims of car accidents and other emergencies, or patients fighting cancer. One of the most important things you can do to ensure we don’t have another health care crisis on top of coronavirus is to give now.

“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, as fear about the coronavirus is keeping people from wanting to donate blood.

Red Cross Donation Safety Protocols

The top priority of the Red Cross is the safety of our donors, volunteers, employees and blood recipients, and we are committed to transparency with the American public during this evolving public health emergency. There are no data or evidence that this coronavirus can be transmissible by blood transfusion, and there have been no reported cases worldwide of transmissions for any respiratory virus including this coronavirus.

Donating blood is a safe process and people should not hesitate to give or receive blood, platelets, or AB Elite plasma. The Red Cross only collects blood from individuals who are healthy and feeling well at the time of donation – and who meet other eligibility requirements.

At each blood drive or donation center, Red Cross employees follow thorough safety protocols, including:· Wearing gloves and changing them often; Wiping down donor-touched areas after every collection; Using sterile collection sets for every donation; Preparing the arm for donation with aseptic scrub; and Conducting donor mini-physicals to ensure donors are healthy and well on day of donation.

We have also increased our vigilance concerning some of these safety protocols including: Enhanced disinfecting of equipment; Providing hand sanitizer for use before entering and throughout the donation appointment; Temperature checks before presenting donors enter the blood drive or donation center; Spacing beds, where possible, to follow social distancing practices between donors. During this time, blankets typically used by platelet, Power Red and AB Elite donors at Red Cross blood donation centers will be laundered after each use, which may limit the availability. Donors are encouraged to bring their own blankets, but electric blankets and heating pads are not permitted.

To ensure our staff are healthy each day, we have implemented standard staff health assessments prior to all blood drives.

Finally, only eligible and healthy people are allowed to give blood.

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.

Travel and Deferral Information

The American Red Cross has implemented new blood donation deferrals out of an abundance of caution. We are now asking that individuals postpone their donation for 28 days following: Travel to China and its special administrative regions, Hong Kong and Macau, as well as Iran, Italy and South Korea. Diagnosis of COVID-19, contact with a person who has the virus, or is suspected to have it.

As the situation evolves, the Red Cross will continue to evaluate all emerging risks in collaboration with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and industry partners to determine if additional intervention strategies are needed. Together, we stand ready to keep the American public informed and prepared.

There are common sense steps we can all take to prevent the spread of any respiratory virus: Avoid close contact with people who are sick. Stay home when you are sick. Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing and throw the tissue away after use. If a tissue isn’t available, cough or sneeze into your elbow, not your hands. Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing. If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty. Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Practice other good health habits. Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids and eat nutritious food. Disinfect doorknobs, switches, handles, computers, telephones, bedside tables, bathroom sinks, toilets, counters, toys and other surfaces that are commonly touched around the home or workplace.

Upcoming Blood Drives in Our Area

There are several Red Cross Blood Drives in our area that are still on the calendar (as of press time) at http://www.redcrossblood.org.

Madison has two blood donation centers. Their East Donation Center is located at 2109 Zeier Road (near East Towne Mall). The West Donation Center is located at 4860 Sheboygan Avenue (near the Blackhawk Country Club).

You can find out more information and schedule an appointment by calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767), or by visiting http://www.redcrossblood.org.

 
 

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