American Red Cross: Critical Need For Blood and Platelets
Right now, the American Red Cross has an ongoing critical need for blood product donations as uncertainties remain during this coronavirus pandemic. Blood drives continue to be canceled at an alarming rate and patients need a sufficient blood supply throughout the many weeks of this crisis and beyond. Healthy individuals are needed to schedule an appointment to give in the days and weeks ahead to help patients counting on lifesaving blood, platelets or AB Elite plasma.
Giving blood is considered an essential community service. As part of our nation’s critical infrastructure, healthy individuals can still donate in areas that have issued a shelter in place declarations. 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 the 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 make an appointment to donate.
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
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.
Limit The Spread Of Germs and Prevent Infection
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.
Where To Find More Information on Coronavirus (COVID-19)
If you live outside the United States, health and safety tips can be found through the World Health Organization.