Los Angeles area hospitals are experiencing shortages of blood products this month. According to Armando Romero, associate director of Blood Donor Services at Cedars-Sinai, the supply has remained consistently low throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. The public is urged to make every possible effort to donate blood when possible.
“Community blood drives in places like high schools, colleges and churches are traditionally our biggest source for blood donations,” Romero said. “With these venues closed and no longer hosting events like blood drives, we’re struggling to keep up with demand.”
Romero said that when the hospital can’t supply the necessary blood from its own blood collection activities, it turns to outside sources like the American Red Cross. But increased demand for blood products from hospitals throughout the country has caused even those sources to run low on supply.
“What ends up happening is that we have to piece together blood deliveries from different sources,” Romero said. “If, for example, we need 50 units of Type O blood, one source might be able to give us 20, another might be able to send us 25. We assess the situation daily to make sure we have enough to keep up with the next few days’ demands.”
Romero noted that with supplies so low, donations will likely be put to use within a short time. As a result, more patients will be able to safely undergo a surgery they need or receive lifesaving medical treatment.
Cedars-Sinai is taking precautions to keep donors safe and prevent the spread of the coronavirus, noted Romero. Appointments are spaced out so that there are fewer donors in the donation center at any given time, and donation beds are set up to create physical distancing. Donors must wear masks at all times when donating blood and are prescreened for COVID-19 symptoms before entering the donation center. And there’s a bonus: Each donor at Cedars-Sinai receives a free COVID-19 antibody test with their donation. This test can determine whether the donor has ever been exposed to the virus, although it does not determine immunity.
Appointments for donating blood at Cedars-Sinai can be made online at: https://www.donatebloodcedars.org/index.cfm?group=op&es=true&bbsID=3.