The U.S. is currently facing a critical shortage of blood. Due to fears about the coronavirus, many blood drives were cancelled, perhaps because donors are feeling especially hesitant to sign up. Although there was a reduced need for blood during the lockdowns as many elective surgeries were postponed, the need for blood has resumed, but donations have not returned to their pre-pandemic levels.
“Our inventories have been cut in half,” Chris Hrouda, president of biomedical services for the American Red Cross, told the NY Times. “We’re starting to get into a critical situation.” According to Hrouda, the Red Cross, which usually has a five day supply, now has less than a two day supply.
If you are in a position to donate blood, now is a really good time to do so. To ensure the safety of donors, clinics are taking extra safety precautions to prevent infection. Many clinic operators, including the Red Cross, are also taking the additional step of screening donors for the presence of antibodies against COVID-19. The results the antibody tests will be available to the donor, typically within a 7 to 10 day time frame.
(A quick reminder: COVID-19 antibodies are an indication of having been infected in the past, rather than a sign of an active infection. If you are not feeling well, or if you have been recently exposed to COVID-19, you should not be donating blood.)
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Who is eligible to donate
Generally speaking, any healthy person over the age of 17 and who weighs at least 110 pounds is eligible to donate blood. You can donate whole blood once every 56 days. Donating only plasma or platelets is also an option.
There may be some additional restrictions in place at your donation site, so check your local center’s guidelines. Common factors that would make you ineligible would be low iron levels, if you are taking certain medications, or if you have lived in or traveled to specific countries. The FDA recently relaxed some of its rules against gay and bisexual donors, as well as its travel restrictions.
How to find a blood drive or clinic near you
To find a blood drive or clinic near you, check the websites of the A.A.B.B. (formerly known as the American Association of Blood Banks), the Red Cross or the America’s Blood Center, all of which offer donation locations as well as schedules of upcoming blood drives.
Depending on where you live, there may be a number of options available. Making an appointment ahead of time will be especially critical due to the need to maintain proper safety precautions, including temperature checks, limiting the number of appointments to ensure adequate physical distance and increased sanitary precautions (bring a mask).
Source link Rachel Fairbank on Vitals, shared by Rachel Fairbank to Lifehacker