Blood centers remind public donations are safe, urgently needed for hospital patients

New Mexico

NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – Nonprofit blood service provider Vitalant is urging healthy individuals to donate blood as blood centers nationwide are trying to maintain blood drives amidst public fear of the coronavirus.

Blood centers are in need of healthy donors as they try to maintain blood supplies in hospitals across the country. “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. That’s why it’s imperative that healthy individuals donate blood at drives and blood donation sites now,” said Dr. Ralph Vassallo, Vitalant’s chief medical and scientific officer in a press release.

Blood collection is safe as blood donations do not impact the donor’s immune system. Vitalant says that staff follows meticulous safety and disinfection protocols at all of its donation centers and blood drives in addition to required FDA testing of all donated blood components.

“Sick hospitals rely on blood donors-there is no other source for blood,” said Vassallo. “We need healthy individuals to donate blood while following guidance from the CDC and other agencies.”

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention states that COVID-19 is mainly spread from person-to-person through close contact and through respiratory droplets when someone who is infected coughs or sneezes. While there is currently no vaccine for COVID-19, the CDC says the best way to prevent illness is to avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth, avoid close contact with those who are sick, and to wash your hands with soap and water thoroughly for at least 20 seconds.

Vitalant and other public health officials are enacting several measures in order to limit COVID-19 and blood centers always require donors to be in good health. Blood collection policies are established by the FDA to ensure the safety of both patients and donors.

At this time all blood types and components are needed and there is a significant need for platelets and type O blood donations. Platelets only have a shelf life of five days.

Vitalant says they strive to maintain a four-day supply of blood in order to provide what patients need and they are currently at less than half of that for many blood types.

To schedule a donation, find a Vitalant location near you or call 877-258-4825.

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