A blood shortage is impacting the region due to COVID-19.
Bloodworks Northwest collects about 60% of its blood supply from mobile drives. Schools alone make up 25% of mobile blood drives. Recent college and high school closures due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) has impacted the amount of blood donations.
During the first week of March, Bloodworks Northwest saw a significant drop in donations. As of March 17, there was a total loss of 3,300 donations.
Donors have continued to cancel appointments because of the coronavirus even though the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) stated there have been zero confirmed cases of transmitting respiratory viruses through blood transfusions.
“We expect even potentially more restrictions on where people are encouraged to go or not go,” said Bloodworks Northwest’s executive vice president Vicki Finson.
Current restrictions limit the opportunity for donations at mobile blood drives. So far, there have been 100 canceled mobile drives. On March 17, Bloodworks Northwest was in the planning stages to reschedule new drives-particularly at places where individuals are still going.
“What I’ve been impressed with is the community response over the past two weeks,” Finson said.
She went on to explain how individuals who have not donated in an extended period of time are now donating again. In addition, more first-time donors are showing up at blood donation centers. The average age of donors for March was 37.
According to Finson, the Pacific Northwest constantly needs blood donations regardless of whether or not there’s a pandemic.
“People don’t donate frequently enough,” she said.
Donated blood has a shelf life of 42 days, while platelets have a shelf life of 5 days. Blood is made up of both white blood cells and red blood cells. White blood cells help fight infections, while red blood cells transport oxygen throughout the body. Platelets, on the other hand, help the blood clot.
One donation can save three adult lives.
Donations are used for (but not limited to) trauma patients, those undergoing cancer treatment, bleeding disorders and blood disease, surgeries and those with immune system conditions.
For more information about donor eligibility, go online to www.bloodworksnw.org/donate/eligibility.