“While it may seem as if the world has stopped — and indeed, in certain sectors, it has — we as a community cannot forget about hospital patients in critical need,” said Harpreet Sandhu, executive director of Stanford Blood Center, in a statement posted on the center’s website. “Even with a shelter in place in effect, individuals in our community — potentially even individuals we know personally — will continue to be in car accidents, need emergency organ transplants, give birth to babies in critical condition, and need chemotherapy. In short, there will still be lives that need saving.”
Blood centers around the country are warning of devastating shortages in all blood types if the lull in donations continues. On March 12, officials from the Food and Drug Administration and the Department of Health and Human Services urged Americans to turn out in force in a joint press release from America’s Blood Centers, the American Red Cross, the Armed Services Blood Program and AABB, formerly known as the American Association of Blood Banks.
“If we don’t have people coming in to donate now, we are going to have a larger problem,” said Jenn Wagner, communications manager for the Stanford Blood Center. “We want people to know that it is very safe to donate blood. Every potential donor is given a mini-physical exam when they first arrive, and we take a medical history. We have also made social distancing part of our practice wherever possible and take every preventive measure to keep our donors safe.”
She said that people who are healthy and meet all other criteria for donation — and who haven’t traveled to a high-risk country or been in direct contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case — are likely eligible to donate blood.
She added, “People older than 65, or those with health conditions that put them at a heightened risk of infection, should be cautious and well informed of current recommendations from public health and government agencies, but are able to donate if they meet all standard criteria for donation.”