Blood donations still needed despite concerns over COVID-19


Associated Press

Empty blood donation seats are seen at The American Red Cross donation center March 9 in Scranton, Pennsylvania. Due to the flu season and new coronavirus, donations are down across the country.

By Noah Johnson

DeKALB — In the wake of the coronavirus, the CDC recommends practicing social distancing. This has stopped some from going to classes, going to work, giving handshakes and even from giving blood.

But blood donation is needed now more than ever, Emily Alanis, donor recruitment manager at the Versiti Blood Center of Illinois, said.

According to a March 16 Versiti Blood Center news release, more than 100 community blood drives have been canceled due to concerns over COVID-19.  The Aurora-based Versiti Blood Center serves 63 hospitals in the Chicagoland area and Northwest Indiana.

Though the supply of blood is decreasing, the demand continues to skyrocket, Alanis said.

“One in seven people who enter a hospital will need blood for whatever their ailments are,” she said. “It’s scary to think that people are canceling their appointments because there are certain surgeries and treatments that cannot occur without the use of blood.”

According to the FDA, blood donation is still safe for healthy individuals.  It states that respiratory viruses, including coronaviruses, are not currently known to infect patients through blood transfusions, and routine blood donor screening measures should prevent individuals with clinical respiratory infections from donating blood.

Some of these screening measures include taking the temperature of donors prior to entering donation areas, ensuring donors aren’t experiencing coronavirus symptoms and making sure donors haven’t recently traveled to high-risk countries outlined by the CDC, according to the Versiti website.

Alanis said blood centers have increased disinfecting procedures in addition to placing donation units further apart to mitigate possibilities of transmission.

To make up for recent cancellations, Versiti is seeking community support, according to the release.

“We are currently exploring ways we can implement new blood drives at secondary locations to replace the drives that have been canceled by high schools, universities, businesses and other organizations,” Versiti chief medical officer Dr. Tom Abshire said in the release.

A donation will take roughly one hour, and anyone age 17 and older in good health is encouraged by the FDA to donate. Anyone age 16 can donate with parental consent.

Those interested in donating can contact Versiti’s DeKalb Center at 815-758-7280.

“For those that are feeling healthy and aren’t feeling impacted [by the coronavirus], this is a way that they can help our community and ensure we don’t have a second crisis on our hands,” Alanis said.