Blood centers nationwide are urging healthy individuals to donate blood with coronavirus (COVID-19) spreading across the country.
Public health officials are taking extra precautions to limit COVID-19 and Vitalant supports these initiatives.
“Hospitals will be extremely challenged if COVID-19 infections increase. The last thing we want them worrying about is having enough blood for trauma victims and cancer patients,” said Dr. Ralph Vassallo, Vitalant’s chief medical and scientific officer.
The AABB (formerly the American Association of Blood Banks) Interorganizational Task Force on Domestic Disasters and Acts of Terrorism recently urged healthy individuals to make and keep donation appointment and ensure blood drives continue.
All blood types and components are needed, with a significant need for platelets and type O blood donations.
Vitalant warned individuals to not donate if they have visited Mainland China, South Korea, Iran and Italy within 28 days, have had a COVID-19 infection, or been exposed to someone suspected of having a COVID-19 infection.
“According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the risk of contracting COVID-19 is currently low,” Vassallo said. “Due to the nature of the virus, it’s highly unlikely that it can be transmitted through blood transfusions.”
The blood collection process is safe. In addition to the vigorous FDA-mandated testing of all blood components donated, Vitalant staff follow rigorous safety and disinfection protocols at its blood drives and donation centers. Finally, giving blood has no impact on the donor's immune system.
“Sick hospital patients rely on blood donors,” Vassallo said. “We need healthy individuals to donate blood, while following guidance from the CDC and other agencies.”
Vitalant is closely monitoring the situation and will quickly implement any necessary changes as new information emerges from the CDC, FDA and AABB. Healthy people are strongly encouraged to make a blood donation appointment by calling 877-25-VITAL (877-258-4825) or going online to vitalant.org.