Versiti Blood Center of Wisconsin says it has experienced a sharp decline in blood donations in the past week as numerous events, including blood drives, have been cancelled across the state in an effort to slow the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus.Versiti is the sole provider of blood to every hospital in southeast Wisconsin, and partners with schools, churches and local organizations to stage hundreds of community blood drives annually. More than 83 community blood drives have been canceled across Wisconsin resulting in nearly 3,000 blood donations not collected due to coronavirus concerns, according to Versiti.
The mass cancellation of blood drives across the country has put the nation’s blood supply “at high risk,” according to a news release from Versiti. Available blood and blood products are at a “concerning level” for the 56 Wisconsin hospitals for which Versiti Blood Center of Wisconsin is the sole provider of blood products, the organization said.
To address the urgent need, Versiti is encouraging healthy people to donate blood.
“Right now is the time for all healthy donors to donate blood,” said Versiti chief medical officer Dr. Tom Abshire. “People need people. We’ve relied on the generosity and compassion of our donors during previous challenging times and we are confident that they will once again answer the call by donating life-saving blood during this unique and unsettled time in human history.”
The donation process itself poses no risk of infecting a donor with coronavirus, according to Versiti.
“Donors and our blood drive sponsors should be reassured that attending organized blood drives is safe,” Abshire said. “Coronavirus is currently not known to infect patients through blood transfusions.”
Versiti said it has implemented increased cleaning and disinfecting procedures in all donor centers and mobile donation units to provide “an even safer donation experience.”
“We are currently exploring ways we can implement new blood drives at secondary locations to replace the drives that have been canceled by high schools, universities, businesses and other organizations,” Abshire said. “We need the support of our community to host new blood drives to replace the canceled drives.”
Those interested in donating blood are encouraged to call 1-877-BE-A-HERO or visit versiti.org/wisconsin.