Giving Blood Safely During the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Way to Make a Difference

By the bioMérieux Connection Editors

Did you know that every two seconds someone in the U.S. needs blood? But, only 3% of age-eligible people donate blood annually. Donating blood is essential to community health and the need for blood is constant. One donation can potentially save up to three lives.

As we fight COVID-19, the top priority of blood collection organizations has been the safety of their donors, volunteers, employees, and blood recipients. One perceived risk during this time has been the safety of donated blood itself. However, there has been no data or evidence showing that SARS-CoV-2 can be transmissible by blood transfusion. Additionally, no cases of respiratory virus transmission from blood transfusion have been reported anywhere in the world. Another perceived risk has been the safety of those involved in the donation process. To ensure participants’ safety, many blood collection organizations, such as the American Red Cross, have implemented and publicly shared their new health and safety protocols. These protocols follow guidelines set by the CDC and help protect the health of donors and staff.

In the presence of COVID-19, new donation protocols implemented by the American Red Cross include:      

  • Enhanced disinfecting of surfaces and equipment after every collection 
  • Providing hand sanitizer for use before entering and throughout the donation appointment 
  • Temperature checks before donors enter the blood drive or donation center 
  • Following social distancing practices between donors including the donor beds, as well as the waiting and refreshment areas
  • Laundering the blankets typically used by platelet, Power Red, and AB Elite donors after each use
  • Staff, volunteers, and donors wearing basic face masks
    • The Red Cross urges donors to bring a face covering or mask to their donation. If you do not have one, a mask will be provided to you.
  • Standard staff health assessments prior to all blood drives

These measures help reduce everyone’s contact with those who may potentially have COVID-19. During this time, the American Red Cross encourages individuals to keep scheduled blood, platelet, or plasma donation appointments and to make new donation appointments for the weeks ahead to ensure a stable supply of blood.

Businesses and organizations in every industry have been feeling the impact of the pandemic. This is especially true for blood collection organizations. There is no known end date in this fight against COVID-19, and blood collection organizations need the help of blood and platelet donors to maintain a sufficient blood supply for weeks to come.

Opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those of bioMérieux, Inc.

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