Feb. 22—The American Red Cross is urging healthy individuals, especially those with type O blood, to donate after record-breaking cold and winter storms across much of the U.S. have forced the cancellation of hundreds of Red Cross blood drives in about 30 states and caused more than 15,000 blood and platelet donations to go uncollected, the Red Cross announced this week.
"Every day, thousands of patients rely on lifesaving blood donations," said the Red Cross in a press release. "The need for blood is constant, even during snowstorms and the COVID-19 pandemic."
To help ensure lifesaving patient care isn't impacted, individuals in areas unaffected by severe weather are urged to make appointments to donate by downloading the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting RedCrossBlood.org, calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or enabling the Blood Donor Skill on any Alexa Echo device.
Donors are asked to schedule an appointment prior to arriving at the drive and are required to wear a face covering or mask while at the drive, in alignment with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention public guidance.
"Each Red Cross blood drive and donation center follows the highest standards of safety and infection control, and additional precautions — including temperature checks, social distancing and face coverings for donors and staff — have been implemented to help protect the health of all those in attendance," the Red Cross said in a press release.
The Red Cross is testing blood, platelet and plasma donations for COVID-19 antibodies. The test may indicate if the donor's immune system has produced antibodies to this coronavirus, regardless of whether an individual developed COVID-19 symptoms. Red Cross antibody tests will be helpful to identify individuals who have COVID-19 antibodies and may now help current coronavirus patients in need of convalescent plasma transfusions. Convalescent plasma is a type of blood donation collected from COVID-19 survivors that have antibodies that may help patients who are actively fighting the virus. Plasma from whole blood donations that test positive for high levels of COVID-19 antibodies may be used to help COVID-19 patients.
COVID-19 antibody test results will be available within one to two weeks in the Red Cross Blood Donor App or donor portal at RedCrossBlood.org. A positive antibody test result does not confirm infection or immunity.
The Red Cross is not testing donors to diagnose illness, referred to as a diagnostic test.
To protect the health and safety of Red Cross staff and donors, it is important that individuals who do not feel well or believe they may be ill with COVID-19 postpone donation.
Upcoming blood donation opportunities in Thurston, Grays Harbor and Lewis counties:
— Feb. 25, 1-6 p.m. at Capital Mall, 625 Black Lake Boulevard, Olympia
— March 2, 1:30-7 p.m. at Calvary Chapel of Montesano, 303 Pioneer Avenue, Montesano
— March 3, 1:30-6:30 p.m., VFW Post 224, 105 E Heron Street, Aberdeen
— March 4, 1-6 p.m., Elks Lodge Hoquiam, 624 K Street, Hoquiam
— Feb. 5, 10-3 p.m., North Beach Senior High School, 336 State Route 115, Ocean Shores
— March 11, noon-6 p.m., LDS — Chehalis Ward, 2195 Jackson Highway, Chehalis