Social distancing may impact the coronavirus but it’s also leading to a shortage of donated blood.
The American Red Cross is facing a severe shortage due to an unparalleled number of blood drive cancellations during this coronavirus outbreak. “This is really serious – it’s put many large hospitals, like Vanderbilt, in a crunch, where we’re not expecting our usual deliveries from the American Red Cross,” Andrews told the Guardian.
According to the Red Cross, 2,700 blood drives have been canceled due to coronavirus concerns, resulting in 86,000 fewer blood donations. More than 80 percent of the blood the Red Cross receives comes from drives operated at locations like high schools, colleges, libraries and other public areas. With many of these locations closed to the public, blood supplies are dangerously low. The shortage could affect cancer patients, people who are in motor vehicle accidents or patients in other emergencies.
“I am looking at the refrigerator that contains only one day’s supply of blood for the hospital,” said Dr. Robertson Davenport, director of Transfusion Medicine at Michigan Medicine in Ann Arbor said in an American Red Cross statement. “The hospital is full. There are patients who need blood and cannot wait.”
Most American hospitals receive blood supplies from the American Red Cross. Forty percent of the nation’s blood also comes from the organization.
The Red Cross stresses there is no evidence that coronavirus is transmitted by blood transfusion. There have been no reported cases of transfusion transmission for any respiratory virus including coronavirus worldwide. They added additional precautions for donors and staff for protection. Beds are spaced in accordance with social distancing guidelines.
Gail McGovern, president and chief executive officer of the American Red Cross said we need to take care of each other during this time of need.
“One of the most important things people can do right now during this public health emergency is to give blood. If you are healthy and feeling well, please make an appointment to donate as soon as possible.”
What you can do
-Individuals can schedule an appointment to give blood with the American Red Cross by visiting RedCrossBlood.org, using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, calling 1-800-RED-CROSS or activating the Blood Scheduling Skill for Amazon Alexa.
-Google drive-thru blood drives in your area. Houston’s Lakewood Church, in partnership with the Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center, will host an emergency, drive-thru blood drive. Many churches and YMC’s are hosting sites across the county.
“The last thing a patient should worry about is whether lifesaving blood will be on the shelf when they need it most,” said Chris Hrouda, president of Red Cross Blood Services, in a statement.