The American Red Cross is urging healthy, eligible people who are feeling well to give blood or platelets to help maintain a sufficient blood supply and prevent shortages as the coronavirus pandemic continues.
Even before COVID-19 swept across the country in recent weeks, the cold and flu season had already hurt the nation’s ability to maintain its blood supply, according to the Red Cross. As the number of coronavirus cases grows in the U.S., the number of people eligible to give blood could decrease as well.
“We’re asking the American people to help keep the blood supply stable during this challenging time,” said Chris Hrouda, president of Red Cross Blood Services. “As communities across the country prepare for this public health emergency, it’s critical that plans include a readily available blood supply for hospital patients.”
But, Hrouda noted, “As fears of the coronavirus rise, low donor participation could harm blood availability at hospitals, and the last thing a patient should worry about is whether lifesaving blood will be on the shelf when they need it most.”
You can make an appointment to donate blood by using the Red Cross Blood Donor app, visiting www.RedCrossBlood.org or calling (800) 733-2767. Type O and platelet donations are especially needed now.
Donating blood is safe, and people should not hesitate to give or receive blood, according to the Red Cross. There is no evidence that the coronavirus can be transmitted by blood transfusion, and there have been no reported cases of transfusion transmission for any respiratory virus, including COVID-19.
A blood donation takes about an hour from start to finish, but the actual donation only takes eight to 10 minutes. To donate blood, you should have a blood donor card or driver’s license, or two other forms of identification. People who are at least 17 years old (16 with written parental consent), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health may donate.