News

Tuesday, March 24, 2020 - Yes, you can (and should) donate blood amid COVID-19 outbreak

(Image via Shutterstock)

By Mike Scott, mscott@stph.org

A whole heck of a lot has changed since the first U.S. case of COVID-19 coronavirus was reported on Jan. 21. One thing hasn’t, however: The need for blood donations.

Although community response from a recent plea for donors has helped stabilize inventory at The Blood Center for the time being, donors are still needed to keep those levels where they need to be, according to Jade Miller, the technical lab manager at St. Tammany Health System.

“The first thing we want people to know is there is no risk of transmission (of COVID-19) through the blood donation process,” Miller said Tuesday (March 24) in an interview on The Lake 94.7 FM. “Respiratory viruses are not known to be passed on through blood donation or blood transfusion, so if that’s what they’re worried about, please don’t worry about that. 

“And then, secondly, we do still need blood donations, because coronavirus is just a small percentage of what hospitals are dealing with right now. We do have our cancer patients and trauma and ER and (neonatal intensive care unit) patients. We do still have patients who need blood, and that can’t be manufactured. We need real, live people to come out and donate for us.”

Unfortunately, current social-distancing protocols – which, in an effort to stem the spread of COVID-19, discourage meetings of more than 10 people – make traditional blood drives difficult to arrange. For that reason, Miller said, people are encouraged to make an appointment to visit a Blood Center location through TheBloodCenter.org to donate. 

“Be assured it will be safe,” Miller said. “There will only be a certain amount of donors there at any given time, a certain amount of staff members at any given time, so that we’re making sure we’re practicing that social distancing but still meeting those blood product needs for our patients.”

As always, donors should be in good health and will need to complete a questionnaire focusing largely on their medical and travel history, which can be completed online. Once an appointment is made, the donation process takes about 30 minutes, sometimes less. 

And just like that, they could save a life. 

“We still have people who are in need of blood, regardless of whether COVID’s out there nor not,” Miller said. “So what we are encouraging people to do -- because we do still need that blood, and of course want everybody to be safe – we are encouraging people to just schedule those donations online at TheBloodCenter.org, so that we can have a safe, consistent flow of donors coming in and out the facilities each day just to help us sustain those inventory levels for our blood products long-term.” 

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Addresses, phone numbers and hours of operation for area Blood Center locations:

Mandeville
4350 Highway 22, Suite K
(985) 377-7007
• Mondays, Tuesday and Thursdays: 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
• Wednesdays: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
• Fridays: 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.
• Saturdays: 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Slidell
1337 Gause Blvd., Ste. 106
(985) 641-4400
• Mondays: 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
• Tuesdays through Thursdays: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
• Fridays: 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.
• Saturdays: 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Hammond
1116 McKaskle Drive
(985) 340-2320
• Mondays, Tuesday and Thursdays: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
• Wednesdays: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
• Fridays: 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.
• Saturdays: 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.