COVID-19 surge causing concern about blood supply

Staff Writer
Redwood Falls Gazette
A blood drive was held in Redwood Falls at the Redwood County government center Nov. 13. At the end of the drive, a total of 35 units had been collected. Among those donating was Jim Hildebrandt of Redwood Falls (above).

The American Red Cross is reminding people to take care of one another, sharing comfort and joy with hospital patients through the gift of blood donation.

Health emergencies don’t pause for a pandemic or holiday celebrations. The Red Cross needs the help of blood donors across the country now to ensure patients continue to have access to lifesaving 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 has caused the Red Cross to distribute a record number of COVID-19 plasma products to hospitals treating patients who are battling the virus.

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. However, it’s not possible without the support of generous blood donors and dedicated partners…,” 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.”

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 the Red Cross Blood Donor App or on the donor portal online 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 tests that are intended to diagnose illness.

As such, to protect the health and safety of its staff and donors, it is important individuals who do not feel well or believe they may be ill with COVID-19 postpone donation.

Each Red Cross blood drive and donation center follows the highest standards of safety and infection control and additional precautions – including temperature checks, social distancing and face coverings for donors and 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 wear a face covering or mask while at the drive.  

What follows is a list of upcoming blood drives being held in the area:

• In Belview, Dec. 9 from 2-7 p.m. at the Odeon Hall

• In Lamberton, Dec. 3 from 12-6 p.m. at the American Legion Hall

• In Morgan, Dec. 15 from 12-6 p.m. at St. Michael’s Church

• In Echo, Dec. 7 from, 2-7 p.m. at the community center

• In Olivia, Dec. 7 from 12 -6 p.m. at the Renville County government services center

• In Olivia, Dec. 10 from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. at BOLD High School

– Submitted photo