Yes, You Still Can (and Should) Donate Blood
Blood banks across the country are experiencing a shortage as blood drives are cancelled, but healthy donors can still help.
Blood drives are being cancelled in record numbers due to the closure of schools, churches and other institutions — which is creating a shortage in blood banks across the nation. But donating blood is still completely safe, according to the Red Cross.
Along with local hospitals, the Red Cross is asking healthy donors to make appointments for the next three months to make up the estimated 1,083 donations that have already been lost due to coronavirus-related cancellations of blood drives across the region. The Red Cross’s Penn-Jersey region, which encompasses Southeastern Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware, requires about 600 donations a day to meet hospital’s ongoing needs.
Alauna Mauger, communications manager for the region, emphasizes that there is absolutely no evidence that coronavirus or any other respiratory illness can be passed through blood transfusion. Donation sites run by the Red Cross and other hospitals are elevating their already strict safety measures to keep donors safe during this time of increased need.
“If you’re going out to a grocery store, you should feel fine coming in to donate blood,” says Julie Karp, Director of Transfusion Medicine at Jefferson University Hospital. Unlike many other hospitals, Jefferson’s main hospital has its own blood donation center, which has a separate entrance to the street that keeps donors well protected from the main building.
“We’re doing everything we’ve always done to keep our donors safe,” Karp says. “And now we’re doing a few extra things. We’re using sterile equipment and cleaning down beds like we’ve always done, but we’re also taking temperatures almost immediately when people come in, and asking people with high temperatures to leave sooner rather than later.”
The Red Cross is practicing a similar temperature check procedure, and both organizations say they have increased sanitation and disinfection policies. Both Jefferson and the Red Cross recommend scheduling an appointment, in order to leave space in their facilities for appropriate social distancing.