American Red Cross officials say Oregon now faces a "severe" blood shortage due to an unprecedented number of blood-drive cancellations in response to the coronavirus outbreak.
Since COVID-19 was reported in the Pacific Northwest, more than 65 blood drives have been canceled in Oregon and Washington, resulting in 2,000 fewer blood donations. Red Cross officials say healthy individuals are needed now to donate to help patients counting on lifesaving blood.
The Red Cross expects the number of cancellations to continue to increase, which is causing heightened concern for blood collection organizations and hospitals across the country. This blood shortage could impact patients who need surgery, victims of car accidents and other emergencies, or patients suffering from cancer.
"In our experience, the American public comes together to support those in need during times of shortage and that support is needed now more than ever during this unprecedented public health crisis," said Chris Hrouda, president of Red Cross Biomedical Services. "Unfortunately, when people stop donating blood, it forces doctors to make hard choices about patient care, which is why we need those who are healthy and well to roll up a sleeve and give the gift of life."
The Red Cross has implemented new measures to ensure blood drives and donation centers are even safer for our donors and staff, including:
Checking the temperature of staff and donors before entering a drive to make sure they are healthy.
Providing hand sanitizer for use before the drive, as well as throughout the donation process.
Spacing beds, where possible, to follow social distancing practices between blood donors.
Increasing enhanced disinfecting of surfaces and equipment.
At each blood drive and donation center, Red Cross employees already follow thorough safety protocols to help prevent the spread of any type of infection, including:
Wearing gloves and changing gloves with each donor.
Routinely wiping down donor-touched areas.
Using sterile collection sets for every donation.
Preparing the arm for donation with an aseptic scrub.
Red Cross officials say there's evidence that this coronavirus can be transmitted by blood transfusion, and there have been no reported cases of transfusion transmission for any respiratory virus, including this coronavirus worldwide.
"Volunteer donors are the unsung heroes for patients in need of lifesaving blood transfusions. If you are healthy, feeling well and eligible to give, please schedule an appointment to give now," added Hrouda.
Individuals can schedule an appointment to give blood with the Red Cross by visiting redcrossblood.org or calling 1-800-RED-CROSS.
You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.