As blood supply drops to low levels, Blood Bank issues call for donors

CHRISTIANA – As Delmarva begins to slowly reopen and hospitals anticipate the return of elective surgeries, Blood Bank of Delmarva is issuing an urgent call for healthy blood donors. The need for red blood cells has rebounded to pre-COVID-19 levels, but the blood supply is dangerously low, a release from BBD states.

In order to maintain a safe blood supply, a seven-day inventory of all blood types must be continually replenished, the release states. Right now, reserves are far below that minimum. For instance, O positive red blood cells are at a 2.8-day inventory level.

Before COVID-19, mobile blood drives hosted by schools, organizations, and businesses made up around 40 percent of the region’s incoming blood supply, but all drives had to be canceled during the past several months, the release states.

BBD will begin holding a limited number of mobile blood drives each week, but they are far from the 50 drives per month that would be required to meet the growing need at area hospitals. Donors are encouraged to schedule an appointment at one of these mobile drives or one of BBD’s three donor centers in Delaware and Maryland, but walk-ins will be allowed when space permits.

“The blood supply is a critical part of our healthcare system. It is imperative for healthy individuals to come in and donate blood so that it’s available to those in need,” said BBD President & CEO Christopher Hillyer, M.D. in a prepared statement. “At this unprecedented time, this is one thing you can do to help someone who desperately needs it. We have extended hours at our donor centers and we’re encouraging donors to schedule an appointment to visit one of these controlled, safe environments.”

Donating blood is safe and it only takes one hour. BBD said that staff are taking extra precautions to help prevent the person-to-person spread of COVID-19. BBD staff are also practicing health self-assessments prior to presenting at work. 

As always, people are not eligible to donate if they’re experiencing a cold, sore throat, respiratory infection or flu-like symptoms. Additional information on donor eligibility and COVID-19 precautions is available here.

According to the release, the Food and Drug Administration recently revised several guidelines regarding donor eligibility, including shortening the deferral period for men who have sex with men from 12 months to three. BBD expects to welcome these newly eligible donors at the beginning of June.

Helpful Coronavirus links

Delaware Division of Health Coronavirus Page
CDC: About the Coronavirus Disease 2019
CDC: What to do if You Are Sick
Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center
AP News Coronavirus Coverage
Reopening Delaware: Resources for Businesses
Delaware Phase 2 guidance

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