FACT FINDERS: Is it ‘OK’ to donate blood right now?

FACT FINDERS: Blood Donations

TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - As the spread of the coronavirus continues and things change almost by the hour, many of you have been asking us questions about what this means for you.

Here at KOLD News 13, we have a team working to get you the facts, as quickly as we can.

Right now, the American Red Cross has a critical need for blood donations. Nearly 4,500 American Red Cross blood drives have been canceled across the country due to coronavirus concerns, resulting in some 150,000 fewer blood donations through March 18.

One viewer asked about the safety of donating blood during the pandemic:

“I know it’s needed; I can do it, but I want to feel secure, and currently don’t. Are the donation sites sanitized differently, and therefore safe during this time? Are those taking the blood practicing a higher level of sanitation? Is blood being tested for the virus or anti-bodies?”

According to the Red Cross, you have nothing to worry about.

“We understand why people may be hesitant to come out for a blood drive, but we want to reassure the public that we are taking additional precautions to ensure the safety of our donors and staff.”

At each blood drive or donation center, Red Cross employees follow thorough safety protocols, including

  • Wearing gloves and changing them often
  • Wiping down donor-touched areas after every collection
  • Using sterile collection sets for every donation
  • Preparing the arm for donation with aseptic scrub
  • Conducting donor mini-physicals to ensure donors are healthy and well on day of donation

The Red Cross has also increased vigilance concerning some of these safety protocols including:

  • Enhanced disinfecting of equipment
  • Providing hand sanitizer for use before entering and throughout the donation appointment
  • Temperature checks before presenting donors enter the blood drive or donation center
  • Spacing beds, where possible, to follow social distancing practices between donors
  • During this time, blankets typically used by platelet, Power Red and AB Elite donors at Red Cross blood donation centers will be laundered after each use, which may limit the availability. Donors are encouraged to bring their own blankets, but electric blankets and heating pads are not permitted.

Appointments are now mandatory at blood drives due to social distancing protocol. To ensure staff are healthy each day, a standard staff health assessment has been implemented prior to all blood drives.

According to the Red Cross, there is no data or evidence the virus can be transmissible by blood transfusion, and there have been no reported cases worldwide of transmissions for any respiratory virus including this coronavirus.

If you have a question you’d like us to answer, send us an email: kold-newsdesk@gray.tv

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