DENVER (KDVR) – The coronavirus has severely impacted the blood supply in the United States. Vitalant has had to cancel more than 1,400 blood drives, resulting in nearly 41,000 lost donations.
Brooke Way, Vitalant’s marketing and communications specialist in Denver said, “The need for blood is ongoing, on a daily basis. These are patients that need blood for transfusions for blood disorders or cancer treatments or car accidents. That’s all still happening while coronavirus is spreading across the United States. So we need to make sure we have blood on the shelves, ready to go as we normally would to treat these patients in need.”
With more communities going under stay-at-home orders, Way said it’s still OK to get out and donate blood.
“What’s great is blood donation is an essential health care activity. So you’re still allowed to go donate blood if you have a shelter-in-place. It’s essential for patients who survive on blood donations,” she said.
Way said they have less than half of the supply they need. She said it’s been reassuring to see so many Coloradans doing their part to help.
“We have seen an incredible outpouring of support from the community here in Colorado. Our donation centers and blood drives have been packed. It’s such a great way for the community to come out and see when they’re feeling hopeless, in homes, not knowing what to do to help. There have been so many wonderful donors coming in our doors, helping give back right now. Colorado is such a state that is supportive when anything is needed. Blood donations are a way to do that for free. And it’s a way to actually give life to someone who needs it the most,” she said.
Blood is still needed and it is safe to donate, according to Way.
“They wear gloves, they disinfect everything after every single donor. Right now, we are taking everyone’s temperature before they walk into the center or blood drive as an extra precaution. We’re asking you to feel healthy to donate blood anyway. That really filters out a lot of people anyway. If you are sick, have a fever, wait until you’re feeling healthy to come donate blood,” she said.
And for people needing blood, Way said there are no cases in which the coronavirus has spread through a blood transfusion.
“We are following guidelines from the FDA and CDC,” she said.
Sick people should not donate blood; blood centers do not test for COVID-19 or the virus that causes it. Blood centers have always required individuals to be in good health to donate, and the blood collection process follows policies established by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to ensure the health and safety of donors and patients.
Vitalant is encouraging healthy people to come donate right now, but call and make an appointment so they can maintain social distancing at the donation centers.