Health emergencies don’t pause for a pandemic or holiday celebrations. The American Red Cross needs the help of blood donors across the country now to ensure patients continue to have access to blood.
As the U.S. experiences a new surge in COVID-19 cases, the Red Cross is becoming increasingly concerned about the nation’s blood supply – including convalescent plasma. A convalescent plasma donation collects plasma from COVID-19 survivors because antibodies to the disease in their blood may help patients who are currently fighting the virus. Increased hospitalization of patients with coronavirus this fall and winter has caused the Red Cross to distribute a record number of COVID-19 plasma products to hospitals treating patients who are battling the virus.
The Red Cross has a couple of blood donation events coming up in Oklahoma, including one in Woodward.
On Thursday, the First United Methodist Church, 1111 Downs Ave., is hosting a Red Cross drive from 11:45 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. The other Oklahoma drive is Dec. 9 in Boise City.
Eligible individuals are urged to make an appointment to donate blood now to help patients in need. Find a donation opportunity using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting RedCrossBlood.org or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).
“Giving comfort to patients by providing lifesaving blood products is fundamental to the Red Cross mission,” said Paul Sullivan, senior vice president at the Red Cross. “While we have certainly experienced unparalleled hardships this year, we have also witnessed great acts of kindness – like COVID-19 survivors rolling up their sleeves to share their antibodies with patients battling the illness. Donating blood, plasma or platelets is an act of kindness that truly makes a lifesaving difference.”
COVID-19 antibody testing of blood donations
The Red Cross is testing all blood donations for COVID-19 antibodies which helps provide insight to donors concerning possible prior exposure to this virus. Donors can expect to receive the results of their antibody test within one to two weeks through our Red Cross Blood Donor App or on the donor portal at RedCrossBlood.org. As part of this effort, plasma from whole blood donations that test positive for COVID-19 antibodies may now help current coronavirus patients in need of convalescent plasma. Each week, whole blood donors with COVID-19 antibodies are helping to contribute between 350-500 units of potentially lifesaving convalescent plasma for patients in need.
The Red Cross is not administering diagnostic tests intended to diagnose illness. As such, to protect the health and safety of our staff and donors, it is important that individuals who do not feel well or believe they may be ill with COVID-19 postpone donation.
Blood donation safety precautions
Each Red Cross blood drive follows the highest standards of safety and infection control and additional precautions - including temperature checks, social distancing and face coverings fro donors have staff - have been implemented to help protect the health of all those in attendance. Donors are asked to schedule an appointment prior to arriving at the drive and are required to wearer a face covering while at the drive.
About blood donation
All blood types are needed to ensure a reliable supply for patients. A blood donor card or driver’s license or two other forms of identification are required at check-in.
Individuals who are 17 years of age in most states (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 have to meet certain height and weight requirements.