LAFAYETTE, LA – The fear of coronavirus is severely impacting the U.S. blood supply as Vitalant and other blood centers across the country are struggling to maintain stable inventories and avoid a critical blood shortage. With school closures and business shutdowns, 25% of Vitalant’s blood collections anticipated in March have disappeared—almost overnight. And that number continues to grow.
“We need people to start turning out in force to give blood,” said Peter Marks, M.D., Ph.D., director of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research (the agency that regulates all U.S. blood centers). “We need it not to get to the point that surgeries are having to get canceled.”
It’s extremely important right now for healthy people to make a blood donation appointment by calling 877-25-VITAL (877-258-4825) or going online to vitalant.org. Vitalant has nearly 125 donation centers across the country, with 3 in Louisiana.
Please visit us at the donation center located at 1503 Bertrand Dr. in Lafayette and 1234 David Dr. #102 in Morgan City and at the following public blood drives:
- Wal-Mart Ville Platte, March 20 from 2:30-6pm
- Wal-Mart New Iberia, March 23 from 11am-2pm
- Wal-Mart Broussard, March 24 from 12:30-3:30pm
- Wal-Mart Breaux Bridge, March 26 from 2-5:30pm
New guidance from government entities recommend that people avoid gatherings. But blood drives are not gatherings: they are blood donation operations that are an “essential health care activity.” To care for patients, people should give blood, keep scheduled blood drives and organize blood drives in the coming weeks.
“It is safe to donate blood,” said the U.S. government’s leader on COVID-19 testing, Admiral Brett P. Giroir, M.D., Assistant Secretary for Health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. “Healthy individuals should schedule an appointment to donate today to ensure that blood is available for those patients who need it.”
“Our blood collection sites are a ‘first response’ action to this outbreak versus a gathering that needs to be avoided,” said Dr. Ralph Vassallo, Vitalant’s chief medical and scientific officer. “If you’re healthy, you’re needed now more than ever. We cannot let it get to the point where there’s no blood available for trauma patients, those undergoing cancer treatment and patients who need regular, ongoing blood transfusions just to survive.”
Sick people should not donate blood; blood centers do not test for the Coronavirus. Blood centers have always required individuals to be in good health to donate, and the blood collection process follows policies established by the FDA to ensure the health and safety of donors and patients. Vitalant staff follow rigorous safety and disinfection protocols at its blood drives and donation centers. Giving blood has no impact on the donor’s immune system.
Currently, all blood types and components are needed, with a critical need for platelets and type O blood donations. Platelets have a very short shelf life—only five days. Type O-negative blood is the universal blood type: ER doctors reach for it first to help stabilize patients before their blood type is known.
Vitalant continues to closely monitor the situation and will quickly implement any necessary changes as new information emerges from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and FDA.
Vitalant (“Vye-TAL-ent”) is the nation’s second largest community blood service provider, supplying comprehensive transfusion medicine services for nearly 1,000 hospitals and health care partners for patients in need across 40 states. Vitalant inspires local communities to serve the needs of others and transform lives through the selfless act of donating blood. Every day, almost 5,000 blood donations are needed to meet the needs of people throughout the country, and Vitalant’s 800,000 donors supply 1.8 million donations a year. In addition to blood products, Vitalant offers customers transfusion services, medical consulting, quality guidance, ongoing education, research and more. For more information and to schedule a donation, visit vitalant.org or call 877-25-VITAL (877-258-4825). Join the conversation about impacting the lives of others on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.