Community Blood Center has launched a campaign to help avert a regional blood shortage as the community acts to halt the spread of the coronavirus COVID-19. CBC officials say fear of the coronavirus should not keep people from donating.
Photo: STAFF/PHOTO
Photo: STAFF/PHOTO

Officials ask for blood donations as coronavirus slowdown threatens supply: How to help

The act of donating blood, according to Hoxworth Blood Center and Community Blood Center officials, does not transmit the novel coronavirus, also called COVID-19, because it’s a respiratory virus, not bloodborne. They also say sites have infection safeguards to protect donors, staff and the blood products.

“We need donors. We have to protect the supply, and it’s safe to donate,” said Community Blood Center spokesman Mark Pompilio. “We’re all doing the same thing, and we’re all trying to prevent an unindented health emergency of a blood supply shortage on top of the COVID-19 emergency.”

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Pompilio and Cara Nicolas, Hoxworth spokeswoman, said all blood types are needed. O positive is especially needed because it’s the most common blood type, they said.

“The Cincinnati community has really turned out for us,” said Hoxworth spokeswoman Cara Nicolas. “Right now, we’re doing OK. Because the hospitals have postponed or canceled elective surgeries, we haven’t had as much usage. Overall, we’re a little bit low on red cells, but we are encouraging people to donate when they can so that we can continue to have blood products on hand for those emergency situations.”

Blood donation can help multiple people when it is separated into specific components: red cells, plasma and platelets. Donations take about an hour, according to the Red Cross.

“This is going to end up in an unprecedented level of blood supply if we’re not careful,” said Chris Hrouda, president of the Biomedical Services with the American Red Cross. “We’re doing everything in our power so we don’t get to a critical level of our blood supply.”

Hoxworth has seen 70 blood drive cancellations in the past several days, said Nicolas. Pompilio said Community Blood Center, which is based in Dayton, has also seen nearly 60 blood drive cancellations — most were at schools which are closed at least until the beginning of April.

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Blood centers across the country have seen a significant drop in donations since the start of March, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which regulates blood centers.

“If you don’t have a blood supply, surgery at a hospital basically shuts down,” said Dr. Peter Marks, of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research. “You have to have a backup in case someone starts to bleed if they’re having a surgery. If someone’s having a heart surgery, and there’s no blood supply, then you can’t do the heart surgery.”

Hoxworth and Community Blood Center are asking people to schedule an appointment to donate, but walk-ins won’t necessarily be turned away, though people must be healthy and illness-free. For Hoxworth, donors can visit Hoxworth.org or call 513-451-0910. For Community Blood Center, donors can visit DonorTime.com or call 937-461-3220.

Community Blood Center will have its mobile blood center from 1:30 to 7 p.m. Wednesday at MidPointe Library in West Chester Twp, though it will travel around the Miami Valley. Hoxworth has brick-and-mortar donor centers around Greater Cincinnati, but the two northernmost are on Kenwood Road in Blue Ash and Kingland Drive in West Chester Twp.

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