Local blood banks urge community members to donate blood as coronavirus cases increase

Posted at 6:50 PM, Mar 11, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-12 02:16:33-04

As a result of coronavirus (COVID-19) preventative measures, Vitalant and other blood centers nationwide are urging those without health complications to donate blood.

"Hospitals will be extremely challenged if COVID-19 infections increase. The last thing we want them worrying about is having enough blood for trauma victims and cancer patients. That's why it is imperative that healthy individuals donate blood at drives and blood donation sites now," said Dr. Ralph Vasallo, Vitalant's chief medical and scientific officer, in a statement.

According to Vitalant, all blood types are currently needed, with a significant need for platelets and type O blood donations.

Vitalant adds that it strives to maintain a four-day supply of blood in order to provide what patients need, but the organization is currently at less than half that for many blood types.

It has banned any non-healthy individuals from donating but is also alerting community members not to donate if they have visited mainland China, South Korea, Iran and Italy within 28 days, have had COVID-19 infection, or have been exposed to someone suspected of having the virus.

Vitalant said in a statement that it reassures community members that "the blood collection process is safe."

According to the organization, Vitalant staff follow rigorous safety and disinfection protocols at its blood drives and donations centers. They also say giving blood has no impact on the donor's immune system.

"Sick hospital patients rely on blood donors. There is no other source for blood," Vassallo said. "We need healthy individuals to donate blood, while following guidance from the CDC and other agencies."

If you're interested in donating locally, contact Vitalant Central Coast at (805) 542-8500 to schedule an appointment.