Urgent need for blood drives to continue

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By Caroline Rosacker

Donating blood is a vital way to help save lives. A single donation can provide different blood components that can help up to three different people. 

With the onset of recommended isolation measures due to coronavirus concerns, blood drive cancellations have grown at a concerning rate. As of March 18, approximately 4,500 Red Cross blood drives were cancelled across the country, resulting in roughly 150,000 fewer blood donations.  

"Increasingly troubling is that we expect this number to continue to grow with the number of COVID-19 cases on the rise, making it difficult to sustain the blood supply for patients in need. That's why the Red Cross strongly urges blood drive hosts to keep hosting blood drives and for healthy, eligible individuals to schedule a blood or platelet donation appointment at RedCrossBlood.org to help maintain a sufficient blood supply and avoid potential shortages," said Red Cross officials.

Kate Fry, chief executive of America’s Blood Centers, which collects close to 60 percent of the nation’s blood supply, urges people to donate before things get worse.

“Blood donors are needed now more than ever. We cannot wait for the situation to intensify further before taking action. The blood supply cannot be taken for granted and the coronavirus only heightens the need for a ready blood supply," said Fry. 

Scheduled area blood drives

St. Peter Lutheran Church in Garnavillo, and Brown's Sales and Leasing in Guttenberg are scheduled to hold blood drives in March. 

St Peter's Blood Drive is scheduled for March 27, from 1-6 p.m., at 301 N. Adams St. Red Cross officials contacted St. Peter's church secretary Janet Johnson and assured her the upcoming blood drive will be held. 

"Your upcoming blood drive is more important now than ever. We will likely be overstaffed too since we have had so many blood drive cancellations from schools and businesses," said the Red Cross. 

Johnson is the coordinator for the Garnavillo Blood Drive. She commented, "Ilo Rodenberg started the blood drive in 1989. She did it for many years until health reasons prevented her from organizing the event. I took over as coordinator in 2018." 

Brown's Sales and Leasing Blood Drive is tentatively scheduled for March 30 from 3-6 p.m. 

Points to remember  

• Two federal agencies are urging people in the United States to continue donating blood during the coronavirus pandemic.

• The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and U.S. blood banks are urging blood donations and trying to calm fears. They said in a statement that coronavirus does not pose any known risks to blood donors during the donation process.

• The FDA and HHS said the cancellation of blood drives means they are unable to keep the blood supply adequately replenished.

• Donations are needed in order to prevent the blood supply from getting depleted. “We need people to prevent the blood supply from getting depleted. We need it not to get to the point that surgeries are having to get canceled,” Red Cross officials said. “That’s something we absolutely do not want to have happen. To ensure an adequate blood supply we need people to come out and donate blood.”

• The FDA said there “have been no reported or suspected cases of transfusion-transmitted coronavirus and the virus poses no known risk to patients receiving blood transfusions.”

Admiral Dr. Brett P. Giroir, assistant secretary for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) said, “It is safe to donate blood. Part of preparedness includes a robust blood supply. Healthy individuals should schedule an appointment to donate today to ensure that blood is available for those patients who need it.”

For additional information call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or online at www.redcross.org

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