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EDITORIAL: Coronavirus leads to urgent need for blood

EDITORIAL: Coronavirus leads to urgent need for blood

It's safe to donate and safe to receive blood during outbreak
EDITORIAL: Coronavirus leads to urgent need for blood
Photographer: Shutterstock

You or a loved one might not get coronavirus.

But you might get into a car accident.

You might need a heart operation or get cancer and need a blood transfusion.

You might find yourself in a hospital emergency room one night in need of blood.

And it might not be there for you.

The coronavirus is undermining our economy. It’s undermining our health system. It’s disrupting our way of life.

And in one very important way, it might be depriving some of us of the gift of life.

Because of the outbreak and the need to create social distance, places that normally host blood drives — colleges, businesses, YMCAs, VFWs, fraternal organizations and churches — have shut down.

And because of illness or because of fears of social interaction, many have stopped donating blood.

In just the last couple of weeks, nearly 2,700 Red Cross blood drives have been canceled across the country, resulting in 86,000 fewer donations than expected.

In the Eastern New York Region, at least two dozen blood drives have been canceled, resulting in nearly 700 fewer blood donations.

That’s created a “severe” blood shortage, which could result in surgeries being canceled or delayed and other individuals not getting the blood they need.

The only way to reverse this dangerous trend is for healthy people to step up and volunteer to donate.

Giving blood is already safe, and Red Cross crews already take extensive precautions to ensure a sterile donation environment.

But in the wake of the virus, the Red Cross has implemented extra precautions to protect donors, including checking the temperature of staff and donors before entering a drive to make sure they’re healthy, providing hand sanitizer throughout the donation process, practicing safe distancing between blood donors and increasing disinfection of surfaces and equipment.

As for the danger to patients receiving blood donations, there is no data or evidence that coronavirus can be transmitted by blood transfusion.

According to the Red Cross, there have been no reported cases of any respiratory virus being transmitted through blood donations, including coronavirus.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has said it’s safe to donate blood, and it recently echoed the fact that there have been no reported or suspected cases of transfusion-transmitted coronavirus.

And the assistant secretary for health in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services issued a statement last week saying it’s safe to donate blood and encouraging healthy individuals to donate — particularly during this time of high need and low supply.

There may come a time when you or a loved one needs blood.

If you’re healthy, if you’re able, there’s no reason not to donate.

Visit https://www.redcross.org/ for more information about area blood drives and to sign up to donate.

Please give now.

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