Because of COVID-19 concerns, more than 160 American Red Cross blood drives in Southern California have been canceled, resulting in the loss of about 5,500 blood donations, according to a Red Cross news release posted Tuesday.
Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital is hosting an American Red Cross blood drive from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at Henry Mayo Center, 23803 McBean Parkway, on Wednesday, to help combat the blood shortage Red Cross is facing amidst the coronavirus pandemic.
The Red Cross estimates that these cancellations have resulted in at least 86,000 fewer blood donations across the nation. Blood drives are where the Red Cross collects more than 80% of its blood.
“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,” Chris Hrouda, Red Cross Biomedical Services president, said in the release. “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.”
Hrouda ensures potential donors that blood donation remains a safe process. In light of COVID-19, the Red Cross has implemented additional precautions, including:
- 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.
To help prevent the spread of any infection, Red Cross employees are implementing the following safety protocols:
- Wearing gloves and changing gloves with each donor.
- Routinely wiping down donor-touched areas.
- Using sterile collection sets for every donation.
“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,” the release said.
The blood shortage could potentially impact patients who need surgery, victims of car crashes and other emergencies, or patients suffering from cancer, the release added.
“Many may not realize that blood is perishable and it has a shelf life of 42 days,” said Red Cross Communications Manager Christine Welsh. “That’s why we constantly need donors in the community to come out and give.”
Individuals must be at least 17 years old, weigh at least 110 pounds, and generally in good health to donate blood, according to Red Cross blood donation guidelines.
Potential donors will also need to disclose their health and travel history, according to Welsh.
“Volunteer donors are the unsung heroes for patients in need of lifesaving blood transfusions,” Hrouda said. “If you are healthy, feeling well and eligible to give, please schedule an appointment to give now.”
Individuals can schedule an appointment to give blood with the Red Cross by visiting RedCrossBlood.org, using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, calling 1-800-RED-CROSS or enabling the Blood Donor Skill on any Alexa Echo device.
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