Red Cross faces severe blood shortage, seeks donors

This is photograph of a blood donation taken from a Vanderbilt University Medical Center blood bank on March 11, 2019 in Nashville, Tenn. The country is currently facing a blood supply shortage due to nationwide blood drive cancellations amidst the coronavirus outbreak. (AMERICAN RED CROSS PHOTO / SANFORD MYERS)

SPRINGFIELD – The American Red Cross is seeking your help.
Due to a soaring number of blood drive cancellations in response to the coronavirus outbreak, the American Red Cross is facing a severe blood shortage.
According to the American Red Cross, as of March 23 some 6,000 Red Cross blood drives have been canceled across the United States due to concerns about congregating at workplaces, college campuses, schools, churches and community centers. Those cancellations have resulted in nearly 200,000 fewer blood donations. More than 80 percent of the blood that the Red Cross collects comes from drives held at locations of this type.
“Every day we are seeing less and less blood available,” American Red Cross spokesperson Kelly Isenor said in an interview with The Westfield News. “I hate to say it, but this is unprecedented…This is uncharted territory for us.”
The American Red Cross is making a plea to area residents, asking for healthy individuals to donate blood to help patients who count on lifesaving blood.
“There is probably someone you know that has had a knee replacement or needed a heart valve, delivered a baby through C-section, or been a victim of a car accident,” Isenor said. “It’s a good chance they needed blood. There is no substitute for human blood.”
Isenor said in addition to needing an emergency blood supply primarily for car accident and trauma victims, and surgeries, more than a quarter of the blood supply is used for cancer patients who are undergoing chemotherapy treatments.
“The best thing for (the American Red Cross) to do to prepare for an emergency is to have a stable and healthy blood supply,” she said.

American Red Cross member Ivette hugs Yari and her two sons Yandriel and Yathxiel in January after the Red Cross responded to Yauco, Puerto Rico following an earthquake in the region. The Red Cross is now seeking the public’s assistance with helping alleviate a blood supply shortage nationwide. (AMERICAN RED CROSS PHOTO / SCOTT DALTON)

The American Red Cross is taking extra precautions, implementing new measures to ensure the health and safety of blood donors. Some of those extra steps include taking the temperature of staff and donors, providing hand sanitizer for use before the drive as well as throughout the entire donation process, frequently wiping down surfaces and equipment, and exhibiting its own form of social distancing by keeping beds a healthy distance apart from each other.
Red Cross employees already follow through with safety protocols to help prevent the spread of any type of infection by wearing and changing gloves with each donor, routinely wiping down donor-touched areas, using sterile collection sets for every donation, and preparing the arm for donation with an aseptic scrub.
According to the ARC, there is no data or evidence that this coronavirus can be transmitted by blood transfusion. They also claim there have been no reported cases of transfusion for any respiratory virus, including this coronavirus worldwide.
To donate blood, individuals are required to bring a blood donor card or driver’s license or two other forms of identification that are required at check-in. Individuals who are 17 years of age (16 with parental consent where allowed by state law), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood. High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also must meet certain height and weight requirements.
There are currently seven locations statewide where people can donate blood. Residents of Westfield and surrounding communities are urged to give blood at the Brookdale Drive location in Springfield.
Anyone willing to donate blood is urged to visit the American Red Cross online at RedCrossblood.org. Willing blood donors can also download the Blood Donor American Red Cross app from the Apple App Store or Google Play Store or call the ARC at 1-800-RedCross.

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