Bloodworks Northwest requires 1,000 individuals to donate per day to maintain a stable blood supply.
So far, Bloodworks Northwest has had 13 appointment cancellations directly due to coronavirus (COVID-19) fears, in addition to a total of 143 lost donations. Mobile blood banks have been canceled because of coronavirus planning sessions.
The amount of blood donations in China has already plummeted due to COVID-19, and Bloodworks officials fear the same might happen stateside. They have already seen a dip in donations in January following poor weather conditions.
“If it dipped to a serious level, then patients could be impacted and we’re doing everything we can to avoid that situation,” Vicki Finson, executive director of Bloodworks Northwest, said.
An increase in coronavirus cases will result in an increase in demand for blood, particularly if the rates of patients in intensive care units (ICU) increases. Finson explained that ICU patients have a suppression of bone marrow, which contains red blood cells (which transport oxygen throughout the body), white blood cells (which fight infection) and platelets (which help the blood to clot). This suppression would require blood or platelet transfusions during hospitalization.
Donated blood has a shelf life of 42 days while platelets have a shelf life of five days.
“We have to draw every single day,” Finson said. “We really have no flexibility.”
According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), there have been zero reported cases of respiratory viruses that have been transmitted through blood transfusions. Bloodworks Northwest continues to closely monitor and follow both Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and FDA guidelines when it comes to donation precautions.
So far, there have been no additional screening measures for blood donations. Several of the screening questions already in place include whether an individual feels healthy and if they have recently traveled out of the country.
“Less than three percent of the U.S. population donates blood,” Finson said. “Our biggest fear is that we’re not going to have enough blood for people who need it.”
To learn more about donating visit www.bloodworksnw.org/donate.