Surgeon General urges blood donations amid shortage due to coronavirus outbreak

'One donation can save three lives ... Donating blood is safe ... Social distancing does not have to mean social disengagement'

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16 March 2020, Saxony-Anhalt, Darlingerode: Places for blood donors are available in an event room in Darlingerode. The DRK is asking for blood donations.
Blood donation center
(Matthias Bein/picture alliance via Getty Images)
Last Updated:
March 19, 2020 - 3:19pm

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Surgeon General Jerome Adams on Thursday urged Americans to consider donating blood, even as the nation faces a blood shortage and many blood drives have been canceled amid concerns related to the coronavirus outbreak.

“One donation can save three lives,” Adams said at the daily White House press conference on the pandemic.

“Donating blood is safe," said Adams. "Social distancing does not have to mean social disengagement. So give blood today. You’ll feel good about it, and you’ll be helping your community and your country during this crisis. And you might even save a life.” 

Adams particularly urged younger Americans, those in the Millennial Generation and Generation Z to consider donating during the coronavirus outbreak. The American Red Cross reported a blood shortage during this time on its website.

“Right now, American Red Cross faces a severe blood shortage due to an unprecedented number of blood drive cancellations during this coronavirus outbreak,” reads a statement on RedCross.org. “Healthy individuals are needed to donate now to help patients counting on lifesaving blood, platelets or AB Elite plasma.

The statement also urges organizations to maintain scheduled blood drives.

"Donating is a safe process and people should not hesitate to give or receive blood or platelets,” the statement continues. "We have implemented additional precautions to ensure safety of our donors and staff. This blood shortage could impact patients who need surgery, victims of car accidents and other emergencies, or patients fighting cancer. One of the most important things you can do to ensure we don’t have another health care crisis on top of coronavirus is to give now."

The American Red Cross also tweeted that through Thursday, nearly 4,500 blood drives have been canceled due to coronavirus concerns, resulting in more than 150,000 fewer blood donations. 

"So much of the blood that we collect are at businesses, college campuses... they're all closing," Red Cross CEO Gail McGovern recently told CNN. "We certainly don't want physicians in a place where they have to figure out who gets critical blood."