American Red Cross faces severe shortage as blood drives cancel with coronavirus outbreak.
As workplaces, college campuses and schools temporarily close or urge remote work in response to the coronavirus pandemic, the impacts are being felt throughout the community and it’s affecting the blood supply in Georgia and nationwide.
The American Red Cross has a severe blood shortage as a result of an unprecedented number of blood drive cancellations during the coronavirus outbreak.
Meanwhile the Atlanta Jewish Times is preparing for its March 27 blood drive sponsored with Selig Enterprises and North Perimeter Contractors. The drive, during American Red Cross Month in March, will take place from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on the first floor of a Selig property at 270 Carpenter Drive in Sandy Springs.
On Tuesday, Gov. Brian Kemp joined the nation’s most-recognized blood supplier in encouraging Georgians to donate blood as federal, state, and local officials work to address the effects of the novel coronavirus and COVID-19, according to a press release from his office.
“As we continue to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, we must ensure that we maintain the necessary blood supply to aid patients throughout Georgia and across the United States,” Kemp said in the release.
“Those who are healthy, without symptoms, and eligible to give blood or platelets should consider doing so. America has faced its challenges before, and when we face them together, we come out stronger. I am encouraging all Georgians to support their neighbors and donate blood as they are able.”
The American Red Cross urged that healthy individuals donate to help patients counting on lifesaving blood. The agency stressed that not only is donating blood safe, but it implemented additional precautions to ensure blood drives and donation centers are even safer for donors and staff.
“Volunteer donors are in a unique position to ensure essential medical care continues for those who depend on lifesaving transfusions, such as surgical patients, accident victims, new moms with complicated childbirths, patients going through cancer treatment and more,” said Ronnika McFall, American Red Cross spokesperson.
The agency reported that nearly 2,700 Red Cross blood drives have been canceled across the country because of coronavirus concerns, resulting in some 86,000 fewer blood donations.
In the Georgia region, 166 blood drives have been canceled, resulting in 7,713 fewer blood donations. More than 80 percent of the blood the Red Cross collects comes from drives.
As the coronavirus pandemic has grown in the U.S., blood drive cancelations have increased at an alarming rate because of concerns about congregating at workplaces, college campuses and schools amidst the outbreak, the agency reported in a press release.
The shortage is causing heightened concern for blood collection organizations and hospitals across the country that could impact patients who need surgery, victims of car accidents and other emergencies, or patients suffering from cancer, the agency stated in the release.
“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. “The hospital is full. There are patients who need blood and cannot wait,” he said.
“In our experience, the American public comes together to support those in need
during times of shortage and that support is needed now more than ever during this unprecedented public health crisis,” said Chris Hrouda, president, Red Cross Biomedical Services. “Unfortunately, when people stop donating blood, it forces doctors to make hard choices about patient care, which is why we need those who are healthy and well to roll up a sleeve and give the gift of life.”
The Red Cross is committed to blood drive safety.
“We know that people want to help, but they may be hesitant to visit a blood drive during this time. We want to assure the public that blood donation is a safe process,
and we have put additional precautions in place at our blood drives and donation centers to protect all who come out,” Hrouda said.
New measures to ensure blood drives and donation centers are even safer for donors and staff, 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
At each blood drive and donation center, Red Cross employees already follow thorough safety protocols to help prevent the spread of any type of infection, including:
- Wearing gloves and changing gloves with each donor
- Routinely wiping down donor-touched areas
- Using sterile collection sets for every donation
- Preparing the arm for donation with an aseptic scrub
The agency assures there is no data or 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 this coronavirus worldwide.
“Volunteer donors are the unsung heroes for patients in need of lifesaving blood transfusions. If you are healthy, feeling well and eligible to give, please schedule an appointment to give now,” Hrouda said.
To donate blood, bring a blood donor card or driver’s license or two other forms of identification that are required at check-in. Individuals who are 17 years of age in most states (16 with parental consent where allowed by state law), weigh at least 110 pounds and are generally in good health may be eligible to donate blood.
Donors can also save up to 15 minutes at the blood drive by completing a RapidPass®, which allows donors complete the pre-donation reading and health history questionnaire online, on the day of donation, from a mobile device or computer. Visit RedCrossBlood.org/RapidPass or use the Red Cross Blood Donor App.
The Red Cross is adding appointment slots at donation centers and expanding capacity at many community blood drives across the country over the next few weeks to ensure ample opportunities for donors to give.
To schedule an appointment to give blood, visit RedCrossBlood.org, use the Red Cross Blood Donor app, call 1-800-RED-CROSS, or enable the Blood Donor Skill on any Alexa Echo device.
Donation centers in Atlanta are in Alpharetta, Duluth East Cobb and Midtown.
The American Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters. It supplies about 40 percent of the nation’s blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families.
To register for the AJT blood drive, visit RedCrossBlood.org using sponsor code: NPCSelig. One donation can save up to three lives. Make your appointment today and donate and receive an American Red Cross donor T-shirt.