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Red Cross says need for blood is critical

March 19, 2020

The American Red Cross has made an appeal for blood in response to the spread of COVID-19.

In a letter sent this week, IBM Endicott’s Mary M. O’Malley-Trumble, chairperson of the board of the Red Cross chapter in the Southern Tier, asked individuals and organizations to help replenish the blood supply.

“Many may be feeling anxious or helpless,” she said. “One area of crucial importance, and which many can play an active role in reversing, is ensuring a sufficient supply of blood.”

She noted that blood has a limited shelf life and that there is no way to generate blood other than through donations from the public.

She asked people to contact the regional Red Cross or redcrossblood.org if they want to donate blood, make a cash donation, locate a drive, or organize a drive at their company, organization, school or place of worship.

“The American Red Cross, which collects 40 percent of the nation’s blood, is currently facing a severe blood shortage,” Ms. O’Malley-Trumble said. “As of March 16, the coronavirus pandemic has resulted in the cancellation of almost 2,700 blood drives, which equates to 86,000 units of uncollected blood.”

She continued: “Given that 80 percent of blood drives are held at universities, high schools, office buildings and places of worship at this time of year, most of which are now closed or closing to allow for social distancing, the severity of the situation is likely to get worse before it gets better.”

Blood drive leaders note that donating blood is a safe procedure and that the Red Cross is implementing measures to replace cancelled drives as quickly as possible, plus ensuring that all blood drives follow enhanced sanitation guidelines outlined by public health officials to ensure the health and safety of both donors and staff.

These guidelines include taking temperatures to make sure staff and donors are healthy, providing hand sanitizer, spacing beds for social distancing, and enhancing the disinfecting of equipment and surfaces.