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COVID-19: Safely Donating Blood and Plasma

Published on Mar. 20, 2020
Give Blood in Northern Michigan

Blood is the most precious gift that anyone can give to another person — the gift of life. One donation of blood can save up to three lives. The American Red Cross is urging healthy donors to make an appointment to provide lifesaving blood products to patients, but with all of the information out there about the new coronavirus and COVID-19, many people who donate blood are left asking, “Is it safe?”

An ongoing blood supply is essential to our healthcare systems nationwide. According to Red Cross:

  • In the U.S., someone needs blood every 2 seconds.
  • Approximately 36,000 units of red blood cells are needed every day in the U.S.
  • The blood type most often requested by hospitals is type O.
  • A single-car accident can require as many as 100 pints of blood.

If you are a regular blood donor or someone thinking about donating blood or plasma to help with potential shortages, know that now more than ever, extra precautions are being taken to ensure the safety of all donors and staff. Versiti, the blood supplier for Munson Healthcare, is implementing the safety measures below.


Donor Health & Registration

  • All donor-facing staff will have their temperature taken prior to beginning their work day.
  • Donors’ temperatures will be taken at registration to ensure they are not elevated prior to entering the donation area.
  • Donors will be asked to wash their hands prior to screening.
  • Donors will be asked if they are currently experience coughing or shortness of breath.
  • Donors will be asked if they have recently traveled to high-risk countries as defined by the CDC.
  • If any of the above is true, donors will be asked to self-defer.

Social Distancing

  • Donors are encouraged to make an appointment to lessen the number of people waiting at our donor centers.
  • Ensuring 6 feet of space between chairs in the waiting area.
  • Ensuring 6 feet of space between donation chairs and/or separation with medical screens.
  • If appointment registration congestion occurs, we will ask for your cell phone number and text you when your appointment is ready.
  • If a drive is being held on the Blood Mobile (bus), Versiti will only allow a certain number of people on at a time (you may be asked to wait in your car until your appointment is ready).

Cleaning

  • Versiti staff will clean all equipment, beds, and other surfaces after each donor finishes their donation.
  • Changing gloves frequently and between donors is part of our normal practice.
  • Versiti will maintain sanitized pen bins, so donors are only using clean pens at sign-in.

To learn more about the steps Versiti is taking to keep donors safe, visit www.versiti.org/home/coronavirus-information.

The choice to donate blood in these uncertain times is a personal decision. To ensure the health and safety of others, it is imperative that only healthy individuals attempt to donate. General guidelines for donating blood, according to the Red Cross include:

Be in good general health and feeling well.

Be at least 17 years old (in some states you can donate if you are 16 with parental consent).

Weigh at least 110 pounds. Additional weight requirements apply for donors 18 years old and younger and all high school students.

Have not donated in the last 56 days.

Have waited at least two days after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine


Convalescent Plasma Donations

Convalescent plasma is the liquid part of blood collected from patients who have recovered from COVID-19. This plasma contains viral antibodies that have treatment potential for severe cases of the disease.

According to the Mayo Clinic Data, participating hospitals have seen the seven-day mortality rate and 30-day mortality rate both reduced when patients receive a plasma transfusion within three days of COVID-19 diagnosis.

How to Donate

Recovered COVID-19 patients throughout northern Michigan interested in participating must meet the following criteria:

  • Have had a confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19 by a physician and/or laboratory testing
  • Must be symptom-free for 14 days.
  • Have not received a COVID-19 vaccine (receiving a COVID-19 vaccine will make any donor ineligible to donate convalescent plasma).

Recovered patients meeting the criteria above can donate up to 12 times with Versiti.

To make a plasma donation, or to learn more about your eligibility, please contact Versiti at 866-702-HOPE (866-702-4673), email MICplasma@versiti.org, or visit versiti.org/covid19plasma.


Before Donating Blood or Plasma

Make an appointment online at to find the donation location closest to you.

Eat iron-rich foods food such as red meat, fish, poultry, and spinach.

Drink an extra 16 oz of water before your appointment.

Bring your ID.

For up-to-date information on donating blood through Versiti visit www.versiti.org.