The American Red Cross is urging eligible individuals to donate blood now while they are healthy, as fear about the coronavirus has led to a drop in donations in the past week.
“We need people to start turning out in force to give blood,” said Peter Marks, director of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research.
According to the Red Cross, cold and flu season had already cut into the nation’s blood products supply. As the number of coronavirus cases grows, the number of people eligible to give blood and platelets could decrease further.
“We need people to prevent the blood supply from getting depleted. We need it not to get to the point that surgeries are having to get canceled,” Marks said. “That’s something we absolutely do not want to have happen. To ensure an adequate blood supply, we need people to come out and donate blood.”
The coronavirus does not pose any known risk to blood donors during the donation process or from attending blood drives.
“It is safe to donate blood,” said Admiral Brett P. Giroir, Assistant Secretary for Health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
“Part of preparedness includes a robust blood supply. Healthy individuals should schedule an appointment to donate today to ensure that blood is available for those patients who need it,” Giroir said.
Blood centers are regulated by the FDA and must follow specific guidelines to ensure safe blood is available for patients at all times. The FDA has reiterated that there is no evidence that COVID-19 can be transmitted by blood transfusion, and there have been no reported cases of transmissions for any respiratory virus, including this coronavirus, worldwide. Nonetheless, the American Red Cross has implemented new blood donation deferrals out of an abundance of caution. Individuals should 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, or contact with a person who has the virus or is suspected to have it.
To find out more about your eligibility or to schedule a donation appointment, visit redcrossblood.org