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Blood supplies dwindle – donors urgently needed

By: Terry Oparka | Troy Times | Published March 19, 2020

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Facing a severe blood shortage due to cancellations of blood drives in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, the American Red Cross urgently needs blood donors. 

According to a March 17 release from the American Red Cross, “nearly 2,700 Red Cross blood drives have been canceled across the country due to concerns about congregating at workplaces, college campuses and schools amidst the coronavirus outbreak. These cancellations have resulted in some 86,000 fewer blood donations. More than 80 percent of the blood the Red Cross collects comes from drives held at these locations.” 

The shortage could impact those who need surgery, victims of car crashes and other emergencies, and people with cancer, the release states. 

“I am looking at the refrigerator that contains only one day’s supply of blood for the hospital,” Dr. Robertson Davenport, the director of transfusion medicine at Michigan Medicine in Ann Arbor, said in the release. “The hospital is full. There are patients who need blood and cannot wait.”

“As a nation, this is a time where we must take care of one another, including those most vulnerable among us in hospitals,” Gail McGovern, the president and CEO of the American Red Cross, said in the release. “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.

“We understand why people may be hesitant to come out for a blood drive but want to reassure the public that blood donation is a safe process, and that we have put additional precautions in place at our blood drives to protect the health and safety of our donors and staff,” said McGovern.

These include: 

• Checking the temperature of staff and donors before entering a drive to make sure they are healthy.

• Providing hand sanitizer for use before the drive, as well as throughout the donation process.

• Spacing beds, where possible, to follow social distancing practices between blood donors.

• Increasing enhanced disinfecting of surfaces and equipment.

• Staff wear gloves and change gloves with each donor.

• Staff routinely wipe down donor-touched areas.

• Sterile collection sets are used for every donation.

• Dorons’ arms are prepared for donation with an aseptic scrub.

According to the release, “There is no data or evidence that this coronavirus can be transmitted by blood transfusion, and there have been no reported cases of transfusion transmission for any respiratory virus, including this coronavirus, worldwide.” 

People can  sign up by visiting redcrossblood.org. Walk-ins are welcome, but a photo ID or a Red Cross Donor Card will be required at the time of donation. Donors must be at least 17 years old, weigh more than 110 pounds and be in good general health to donate.

Call Staff Writer Terry Oparka at (586) 498-1054. 

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