COVID-19 pandemic causing blood donation shortages

FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. (WSVN) - There have been blood supply shortages nationwide because of the coronavirus.

OneBlood’s Big Red Bus could be seen parked outside Holy Cross Hospital in Fort Lauderdale Wednesday for what they called an “emergency blood drive.”

“Major, major, major impact,” said Angie L’Heureux, the Lab Director at Holy Cross Hospital on the effect COVID-19 on the blood supply. “The reality is we rely on these human donations to support our patients every single day.”

She said while the hospital still has the supply to meet the needs of their patients, they’re having to be more strategic because of inventory issues across the country.

“We do share blood throughout the entire country on a daily basis, so when it’s just isolated events geographically, we can support each other from the other locations. The problem today is this is the entire country, so we have to come together, find those healthy donors and bring them out.”

With more people staying home, less have been out giving blood.

The Red Cross said, as of Monday, 7,000 of their blood drives have been cancelled nationwide, resulting in more than 200,000 fewer donations.

They have teamed up with OneBlood here in South Florida.

The call to action is already having an impact.

Susan Forbes of OneBlood said, “What we need is for sustained donor response to continue. We need them for the long haul.”

With social distancing and personal hygiene on everyone’s minds, those who collect blood said safety precautions are in place for donors.

“All of our phlebotomists already wear medical gloves that are changed for each donation, and we are wiping down all of the donor beds and every other piece of equipment that donors come into contact with is disinfected after every donation,” Forbes said. “We take the temperature of every donor, and only healthy people can donate.”

Frank Malek, a donor, said, “I couldn’t stay home and not help, people who needed my blood. Apparently, I gave extra red blood cells to help cancer patients and babies, so I did my little part.”

Virginia Smith, another donor, said, “It’s the little things that we can do for each other that make a difference for this epidemic, and I believe that I could simply give my blood to help someone else. That’s little, but I think it will prove hope, if others will come out and do the same.”

Before donating blood, officials recommend making an appointment before donating.


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