In light of recent events regarding the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, many community blood banks are closing their doors, making donations scarce. On March 17th, the American Red Cross revealed that the country is facing a severe blood shortage. At that time, over 2,500 blood drives had been cancelled, resulting in 86,000 fewer donations. With many parts of the country following strict stay-at-home-orders and numerous people contemplating the safety of the blood donation process, the heart experts at AMS Cardiology are sharing what you need to know about the donation process right now and who is eligible for donation.
Blood Donation Process
In an email sent out by the American Red Cross, they stated, “Healthy, eligible donors are strongly encouraged to donate amidst rising coronavirus concern. Donating is a safe process.” In an effort to encourage more people to donate, the FDA has been revisiting many outdated policies regarding the donation process to ensure that the nation has an adequate blood supply. This includes donor eligibility criteria like for those with recent tattoos and piercings, the recommended deferral period is now just 3 months down from 12 months.
Before donating, it is not necessary to be tested for COVID-19. A pre-screening test will be performed making sure you’re healthy by checking your temperature and asking if you have been exposed to someone who is sick. If you have a high temperature, appear unwell or have been in contact with someone known to have the virus, the donation process will be halted, and you will not be allowed to give blood at this time.
Many donation centers are putting additional precautions in place to ensure the safety of the staff and the donors. “We understand why people may be hesitant to come out for a blood drive but want to reassure the public that blood donation is a safe process.” says Gail McGovern, president and chief executive officer for the American Red Cross. New measures recently implemented include:
- Checking everyone’s temperature (including staff) before entering a drive
- Hand sanitizer readily available throughout the entire process
- Social distancing, including spacing beds at the recommended distances
- Increased disinfecting and sanitizing efforts on high touch surfaces
Who Can Donate
Healthy individuals who are 17 years of age or older and who weigh at least 110 pounds can donate whole blood every 56 days. Platelet donations can be done every 7 days but no more than 24 times in a single calendar year. The American Red Cross is also urging individuals who have fully recovered from the virus to sign up to donate plasma to help current patients. People who have recovered may have antibodies in their blood which are being evaluated as a potential treatment for people who have severe or life-threatening cases of COVID-19.
If you have any questions surrounding your eligibility to donate during the pandemic or about the donation process, contact the experts at AMS Cardiology at 215-517-1000. We are still here for you and all your heart health needs.