By Kellie Book
Social distancing protocols and concerns over the risk of contracting COVID-19 has led to several blood drive cancellations, and the effects are being felt in hospitals.
Part of the blood supply problem is that blood has an expiration date.
“Whole blood is only useful to patients for 42 days,” blood collection organization Versiti states on their website.
Furthermore, there is a minimum time period that must pass between donations. The website states that individuals may donate whole blood every 56 days.
Versiti Account Representative Liz Collver stressed the importance of this detail.
“We have to keep this momentum going into April,” Collver said.
Collver explained that if most of the people who are able to donate do so all at once, the blood will either expire or run out before they are able to donate again.
Essentially, the ‘curve’ of blood donation has to stay relatively flat, or the rapid influx of blood followed by a dramatic decline will create complications for hospitals and their ability to provide care for patients.
Although many blood drives have been cancelled, Versiti is “actively setting blood drives up,” Collver said.
“We’re really pushing people to make appointments,” Collver said. That applies to both blood drives and the Versiti blood donation center.
If donors avoid random walk-ins in favor of scheduled appointment times, social distancing and a steady blood supply will be much more achievable.
Versiti is practicing social distancing and has adopted additional sanitary precautions in order to protect donors and staff. For example, staff get their temperature taken prior to their shift and donors get theirs taken prior to the screening process. Donors are asked to wash their hands before screening. The staff also disinfect donation stations and screening form pens between donors. The stations are rearranged to allow for social distancing. Versiti states that there is no risk of contracting the coronavirus through blood transfusion. For more details, go here.
“Blood donation is exempt from the governor’s order,” Collver said.
Healthy and interested in donating? You can go here to set up your appointment.