As national nonprofits and local hospitals are encouraging residents to donate blood as the coronavirus crisis has not only strained health care facilities but also caused a depletion of the region’s blood supply.
The American Red Cross said they are facing a severe blood shortage due to an unprecedented number of blood drive cancellations in response to the coronavirus outbreak. Nearly 2,700 Red Cross blood drives have been canceled, and in the eastern New York region 23 blood drives have been canceled.
In total, cancellations have resulted in 86,000 fewer blood donations. More than 80 percent of the blood the Red Cross collects comes from blood drives, according to the organization.
The shortage has prompted concerns about how hospitals will treat medical emergencies. According to the Red Cross, a single blood donation can be used to save multiple lives and about one in seven hospital admissions requires a blood transfusion.
“Unfortunately, when people stop donating blood, it forces doctors to make hard choices about patient care, which is why we need those who are healthy and well to roll up a sleeve and give the gift of life.” said Chris Hrouda, president of Red Cross Biomedical Services, in a statement.
Similarly, The New York Blood Center is urging healthy donors to donate. In addition, they are extending open hours at their donor centers. NYBC operates 19 donor centers across New York and New Jersey. Its Port Jefferson Station Donor Center, located at 1010 Route 112, works closely with St. Charles Hospital.
NYBC officials said these steps have maintained the blood supply for now but stressed that blood is perishable and the supply must be continually replenished to avoid a shortage.
NYBC said they are taking extra precautions to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and advise people who are experiencing a cold, sore throat, respiratory infection or flu-like symptoms to avoid donor centers.
Stony Brook University Hospital is currently accepting blood donations as well.
Hospital officials said they are constantly monitoring the blood supply situation at its facilities and assured residents that donating blood is safe. Donors are health screened at the hospital entrance, and the donor room is not crowded. The screening process includes completing a form regarding recent travel history and potential acute respiratory symptoms and COVID-19 exposure.
The hospital is accepting blood donations from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. on weekdays and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays. People can call 631-444-2626 to make an appointment.