Updated: Jun 2, 2020
Is it safe to donate blood during the COVID-19 pandemic?
Absolutely. Just be careful.
The world is shut down, you’re sheltering in place, trying not to leave your home, and wondering if it is safe to go outside at all. Understandably, you might be hesitant to donate blood at this time, but it’s more important now than ever. The process might seem a little different from what you remember, but local blood centers are taking extensive safety measures to ensure the safety of donors. It is important to do everything you can to stay healthy, and they are doing everything they can to keep you that way--and to ensure that you can help other people, too.
Red Cross medical centers are currently following strict health protocols, which include wearing gloves at all times and changing them often, wiping down surfaces after every donation, using sterile collection equipment, and conducting mini-physicals of every donor to ensure their health at the time of donation. Additionally, centers have increased sanitization, are providing hand sanitizer, and conducting temperature checks before donation. Local blood centers should be following similar measures; supplementing the nation’s blood supply is incredibly important, but only if our donors can be safe and healthy to do so.
As explained by Dr. Chancey Christensen, Associate Medical Director of the Blood Donation Center at the University of Chicago Medicine, there are a couple of steps you can take to make this process as smooth and safe as possible.
Schedule an appointment. Blood centers are following social distancing requirements, too, and need to ensure a safe, manageable visitor flow so as not to overcrowd centers.
Be patient. As a result of social distancing, donor intake is reduced, and centers can accommodate a smaller number per day than previously. Heavy phone traffic also means that phone lines may be busy, and it might take a few days to be able to come in to donate.
Arrive on time. For safety and to maintain social distancing, appointments are carefully timed. Arriving late may throw off the schedule and lead to overcrowding, so help keep the process organized by being punctual.
Wear a face mask. At this point, this should be common sense, but cover your face to prevent the spread of possibly infectious droplets, and keep the people around you safe.
Finally, thank everyone for doing their part to help keep our communities healthy.
Thank you, too, for donating blood and helping to combat this crisis. If you do decide to donate, help spread the word! Take a selfie or a quick photo of the site and post with the hashtags #DonateRed #CovidCodeRed #NowMoreThanEver.