Blood supplies are becoming increasingly critical and need replenishment, according to Arkansas’ top health official.
Arkansas Department of Health Secretary Dr. Nate Smith noted the critical concern in the decrease of blood donation amid the COVID-19 pandemic during a press conference held on Thursday, May 21.
“People are not going in and donating as often as they had been. Maybe for fear of COVID-19 or maybe they are just distracted,” he said. “But I wanted to remind people if you’re a regular donor, go and donate. If you have not donated before, this is a good time because they really need it.”
Smith said he donated blood earlier that day in honor of his mother-in-law who had to be hospitalized this weekend and receive a blood transfusion.
In March, U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams also encouraged healthy individuals to donate blood after the American Red Cross announced that it was facing a severe blood shortage due to the number of blood drive cancellations.
“You can still go out and give blood. We’re worried about potential blood shortages in the future. Social distancing does not have to mean social disengagement,” Adams said on NBC on March 18.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has not found any evidence to suggest that COVID-19 can be transmitted either through a blood exposure of a blood donation.
Donor centers and mobile blood drives have made accommodations for social distancing and implemented additional cleaning measures.
Blood is a perishable product that requires continual donations to ensure a healthy supply to those patients in need. Donations typically take approximately one hour, and one donation saves up to three lives, according to the Arkansas Blood Institute.
Appointments can be made by calling 1-877-340-8777 or clicking here or visiting a donor center listed below:
The Arkansas Blood Institute is also collecting convalescent plasma from donors who have recovered from COVID-19 as part of an experimental initiative. Patients who have recovered from COVID-19 may have antibodies in their blood plasma that can help others who are seriously ill with the virus.
Donors are encouraged to sign up for the registry at my.bio-linked.org which allows users to submit confidential health and social information via a secure site to list themselves as potential volunteers for medical research. Once qualified, plasma will be drawn. Each donor can provide up to three therapeutic plasma doses.