While coronavirus patients typically don’t need blood transfusions, the transmission of the virus and social distancing procedures have made donors scarce. Even with elective surgeries shelved, the need for blood never diminishes.

According to the American Red Cross, trauma patients, children battling cancer, mothers experiencing childbirth complications, patients with sickle cell disease and others continues still need vital blood even during the pandemic. Current supplies are drying up, as donated blood has a limited shelf life of 42 days for red cells and just five days for platelets, so the supply must constantly be replenished.

The Red Cross is hoping that donors will contribute to the cause and they’re holding drives with special attention paid to safety procedures to ensure donors and staff remain safe. Additional measures – including social distancing and face coverings for donors have been implemented to safeguard donors, volunteers and employees in alignment with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s public guidance.

Healthy individuals who are feeling well are asked to make an appointment to donate this May by downloading the free 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 site.

All blood types are needed to ensure a reliable supply for patients. A blood donor card or driver’s license or two other forms of identification are required at check-in. Individuals who are 17 years of age in most states (16 with parental consent where allowed by state law), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood. High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also have to meet certain height and weight requirements.

Blood and platelet donors can save time at their next donation by using RapidPass to complete their pre-donation reading and health history questionnaire online, on the day of their donation, before arriving at the blood drive. To get started, follow the instructions at RedCrossBlood.org/RapidPass or use the Blood Donor App.

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