Yes, it’s safe to donate blood during the pandemic—here’s why it’s essential to do so

Is it safe to donate blood?
Photo via Navy Medicine/Flickr (Public Domain)

Blood centers across the United States are reporting that they’re “critically low” on blood supply levels during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a joint statement from AABB (formerly known as the American Association of Blood Banks), America’s Blood Centers, and the American Red Cross. Experts are reassuring citizens that it is still safe to donate blood, and they are urging them to do so.

Blood centers are facing a shortage in supply paired with higher than usual demand due to the pandemic. This is not to mention other disasters that occurred in 2020.

“A variety of events—including wildfires in the Western states, recent hurricanes, and other storms—have led to additional disruptions to the collection of blood, compounding the impact of canceled blood drives at schools, businesses and community organizations due to remote work and closures,” the organizations wrote. “At the same time, the need for blood continues to increase as more hospitals throughout the country resume normal surgery schedules and more patients require blood.”

The organizations said they anticipate a higher need for blood donation this fall and winter. The flu and COVID-19, aka a twindemic, could “further compound challenges to maintaining a readily available blood supply for patients in need of life-saving treatments.”

Many hospitals typically have 1-2 weeks supply of blood on hand, but they are now operating with only 1-2 days supply, according to Dr. Justin Kreuter, a transfusion medicine specialist for Mayo Clinic Blood Donor Center.

Blood centers are following CDC COVID-19 guidelines to ensure that it is safe to donate blood. They are checking temperatures, enforcing mask mandates and social distancing, and taking extra sanitization measures at donation centers. Find your local blood center by contacting AABB, America’s Blood Centers, or the American Red Cross.

Is it safe:

Sources: AABB, USA Today, Mayo Clinic, CDC

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