Blood Urgently Needed

Update March 26:

New York Blood Center will be the first blood center to collect blood plasma donations from people who have recovered from Covid-19 to treat other patients with advanced illness. In the treatment, known as convalescent plasma, the patient is transfused with the donor’s plasma with the goal of using the donor’s antibodies to help clear the virus more rapidly. On March 24, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the treatment for use on a case by case basis and NYBC will be the first to collect plasma from recovered COVID-19 patients for this purpose.

“We’re proud to partner with leading medical institutions from New York and beyond in developing this potential treatment,” said Beth H. Shaz, MD, Chief Medical and Scientific Officer at New York Blood Center. “If this treatment proves to be effective, we are prepared to quickly scale our process and activate our network to serve hospitals nationwide.”

NYBC will collect the donations, process the plasma for infusion, and maintain a bank for hospitals to treat patients with serious or immediately life-threatening COVID-19 infections. Qualified donors will be referred to NYBC by area hospitals and the Food and Drug Administration will approve patients for the treatment on a case-by-case basis.

Original Story Follows:

The New York Blood Center has cancelled all blood drives scheduled from March 23 through April 12 for the safety of donors and its staff during the coronavirus crisis, but there is still a dire need for blood.

The New York Blood Center is responsible for most of the blood drives held by local fire departments and community groups on the East End. Firehouses have closed their doors to the public during the pandemic to avoid exposure for first responders, interrupting 75 percent of its incoming blood supply.

The blood center and local hospitals are urging healthy donors to set up an appointment to give blood at one of their centers, the nearest of which are in Ronkonkoma and Port Jefferson.

NYBC reported this week that it is receiving “critically low blood and platelet appointments, making it difficult to meet patient needs and hospital demand.”

The blood center also gave an update this week on the safety protocols when giving blood in a region with a high number of Covid-19 cases.

“There is no data or evidence that this coronavirus can be transmitted by blood transfusion. In fact, there have been no reported cases of transfusion-transmission for any respiratory virus, including this coronavirus,” according to the blood center.

“It is safe to donate blood, and we encourage healthy individuals to donate so that blood is available for those patients who need,” according to the blood center. “Our blood collection sites are disinfected frequently, and we are taking extra precautions to help prevent the person-to-person spread of Covid-19 as per CDC recommendations. Our staff are also practicing health self-assessments prior to presenting at work.”

New York Blood Center

NYBC only collects blood from individuals who are healthy and feeling well at the time of donation – and who meet other eligibility requirements. 

To protect their staff and donors, NYBC is asking donors to self-screen before coming in to donate, asking people who experience the following symptoms or situations to not come to the blood centers:

  1. A fever or other symptoms of COVID-19 (cough, shortness of breath, or difficulty breathing)
  2. Close contact with someone diagnosed with or suspected of having COVID-19 in the last 14 days
  3. If you have been diagnosed with or suspected of having Covid-19 until 28 days after your illness has resolved

If you are unsure whether to donate, or if you have donated recently and you develop symptoms of Covid-19 or you test positive for Covid-19, contact the blood center at 1.800.688.0900.

The New York Blood Center does NOT test for Covid-19, and they’re asking prospective blood donors to contact their health care providers if they feel the need to be tested.

“If you are feeling healthy and well and meet general eligibility guidelines, please schedule your donation now to help ensure a stable blood supply amid coronavirus concerns,” says the blood center.

Appointments are now required for all blood donations to protect the safety of donors and staff.

The New York Blood Center’s Port Jefferson Station Donor Center is at 1010 Route 112, Port Jefferson Station, NY 11776 and is accepting appointments online here.

The Bohemia Donor Center is at 3125 Veterans Memorial Highway, Ronkonkoma, NY 11779 and is accepting appointments online here.

Both centers have currently expanded their hours and are accepting appointments from 7:45 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.

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Beth Young

Beth Young has been covering the East End since the 1990s. In her spare time, she runs around the block, tinkers with bicycles, tries not to drown in the Peconic Bay and hopes to grow the perfect tomato. You can send her a message at editor@eastendbeacon.com

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