CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – The COVID-19 pandemic along with recent winter storms across the country has increased the American Red Cross’ need for blood, platelet, and plasma donations.
The need for blood, platelets, and plasma:
January and February are typically some of the slowest months for blood donations and these additional factors have added to the downward spiral in blood donations.
According to Ben Williamson, the Regional Director of Communications for the Red Cross in South Carolina, 30 states had to cancel blood drives because of a loss of power and water over the last several weeks resulting in over 21,000 units of blood going uncollected nationally.
Williamson said only three states’ blood drives were unaffected by winter storms: South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida. These states are now being asked to help distribute blood across the rest of the country.
The American Red Cross is a national organization with a unique ability to meet the local need first and then distribute excess product to places that are in need. In this case, that would be states affected by winter storms like Texas, Arkansas, and Missouri.
“If you have an appointment, please keep it,” said Williamson. “If you can make an appointment, please do that sooner rather than later as we try to get back up this national inventory.”
Businesses and companies are also encouraged to host blood drives if possible. To organize a drive, you can visit redcrossblood.org or call 1-800-RED–CROSS (1-800-733-2767).
Williamson emphasized that the country is not in a blood shortage as it was in the beginning of the pandemic. The goal is to increase donations to avoid falling back into a shortage.
“Blood is a perishable item. It’s not something you can stock up on. It’s not like money in a bank. You can’t collect a bunch of it, save it, then pull it out when we have a winter storm impact,” said Williamson.
Can I donate if I’ve had COVID-19?
Many questions have come up about blood donation after recovering from COVID-19.
Here’s a breakdown of who can donate, which product, and when.
If you have recovered from COVID-19:
-You can donate as long as you are 14 days symptom-free and feeling healthy and well.
-People who have recovered from COVID-19 are encouraged to donate blood, platelets, and convalescent plasma because the antibodies are used as a treatment for people with severe cases of the virus.
If you have gotten the COVID-19 vaccine:
-In most cases, you are eligible to donate whole blood and platelets as long as you are feeling healthy and well.
-Make sure you know which vaccine you have received before donating (Moderna, Pfizer, etc.)
-You are not eligible to donate convalescent plasma with the Red Cross if you have received the vaccine.
For more information about donating blood, platelets, and convalescent plasma during the COVID-19 pandemic, click here.