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Coronavirus concerns could spark a blood donation shortage. Here’s why you should keep donating blood and not worry.

San AntonioThe South Texas Blood & Tissue Center said it’s making changes to ensure donors are safe when they visit their donation locations.

The extra precautions include wiping down chairs and donations beds. The center has also added more hand sanitizer stations and staff members are asked to stay home if they are sick or have a fever. They can return to work 24 hours after the fever has resolved.

During screening, donors are being asked if they have traveled to any countries impacted by COVID-19. Donated blood is already screened for dangerous diseases.

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Mary Ughlig, with the center, said community sponsors that have scheduled mobile blood drives have considered canceling the drives due to concerns.

“There have been some questions about it. We’re working with those blood drive sponsors to see if we can’t overcome those concerns and keep those blood drives on the books,” Ughlig explained.

Mobile drives represent about 60-80 percent of the blood donations in the community. Canceling those drives could create a shortage, she said.

Ughlig said it’s also important to note that the coronavirus is not transmitted through blood since it’s a respiratory disease.

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University Health System said it’s also making changes to its protocol. It is following the recommendations by the American Association of Blood Banks, which STBTC also follows.

Here’s what they hope people will keep in mind.

  • Individuals are not at risk of contracting COVID-19 through the blood donation process or via a blood transfusion, since respiratory viruses are generally not known to be transmitted by donation or transfusion.
  • The U.S. Food and Drug Administration continues to report that there have been no reported or suspected cases of transfusion-transmitted COVID-19 to date. In addition, no cases of transfusion-transmission were ever reported for the other two coronaviruses that emerged during the past two decades (SARS, the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus, and MERS-CoV, which causes Mideast Respiratory Syndrome).
  • Routine blood donor screening measures – which may include travel deferrals – are already in place to prevent individuals with clinical respiratory infections from donating blood and ensuring the safety of the blood supply.

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