Blood supply suffers as coronavirus pandemic continues

Blood supply suffers as coronavirus pandemic continues
In the throes of the coronavirus and summer – a time when blood stores run lower – the precious gift of life is in great demand. The American Red Cross and LifeSouth Community Blood Centers ask for assistance at this critical time. (Bob Shepard/UAB)

This is not a good time to need a blood transfusion. Summer typically sees a decrease in the nation’s blood supply, and this summer the situation is seriously complicated by the novel coronavirus pandemic. Simply put, there is a severe blood shortage, and Americans are encouraged to donate blood now and throughout the year.

“There is an urgent need for blood products so that hospitals have suitable reserves for those patients who need a blood transfusion, such as those with cancer, sickle cell disease, undergoing emergency surgery, trauma victims or post-partum women,” said Dr. Marisa Marques, director of Transfusion Services at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. “We are urging citizens to donate at this time of tremendous need.”

As part of recommended social distancing, many frequent or casual blood donors have curtailed their normal activities, including blood donation. However, donating blood can be done safely during the pandemic, as blood collection agencies have implemented multiple strategies to reduce any potential risk of exposure to staff and donors.

Donors can give blood up to six times a year, every eight weeks. If you are healthy, are feeling well and are eligible to give blood or platelets, please make an appointment to donate. To find a blood drive or fixed donation location, go to the websites of the American Red Cross or LifeSouth Community Blood Centers websites.

The process takes about 45 minutes; the actual blood collection usually takes less than 20 minutes. Donors should bring a photo ID, wear a mask and practice social distancing.

This story originally appeared on the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s UAB News website.

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