Appointment by appointment, healthy people throughout the Las Vegas Valley are still stepping up to give blood amid the coronavirus pandemic, keeping a shortage at bay.
It’s happening at a time when school and business shutdowns prompted mass blood drive cancellations, initially worrying donation centers. But individuals are filling the need.
“This reminds me a lot of what we saw during 1 October,” said Jeannine McCoy, manager of regional donor recruitment for Vitalant, a nonprofit transfusion organization also known as United Blood Services.
In the wake of the 2017 mass shooting, people lined up at blood donation centers before dawn the next day to give.
“I am always amazed at how our community comes together and responds during a time of crisis,” McCoy said.
Donation considered safe
COVID-19 is a respiratory disease. According to a recent advisory from the Food and Drug Administration, which regulates blood donation centers, it is unknown whether the disease can be transmitted by blood.
But the agency advised that in general, respiratory diseases are not known to be transmitted through blood transfusions, and there have been no reported cases of the coronavirus as a result of someone giving or receiving blood.
Routine donor screening measures should also prevent anyone with a clinical respiratory infection from donating, the advisory said.
Earlier this month, the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services doubled down in a statement.
“Blood donations save lives, and there is no risk of contracting COVID-19 from the blood donation process,” the statement said. “It is vital that healthy people continue to donate blood.”
How to donate
Local blood donation centers are encouraged right now. But they ask that people continue to give blood to help balance out canceled drives.
The local Red Cross chapter is allowing people to donate by appointment at its south valley office, located at 444 E. Warm Springs Road, Suite 110. You can sign up at redcrossblood.org/give.
The appointment process is meant to stagger donations and follow social-distancing guidelines.
Vitalant is also taking appointments at 877-258-4825 or bloodhero.com. The organization has three local blood donation centers, each now open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., seven days a week.
Out of an abundance of caution, both organizations are now taking would-be donors’ temperatures before they enter a donation center or still-scheduled drive.
Staff will also take your temperature a second time before donating as part of a routine vitals check.
Though public gatherings are discouraged, each center is making a point to physically put space between donors.
The blood donation process is also sterile. Only single-use collection sets are used, and staff disinfect donor areas each time someone gives. Employees who don’t feel well are required to stay home.
“I am so grateful to our donors,” McCoy said. But she hopes people continue giving. “There is no substitute for blood.”