37ºF

Red Cross needs blood donors after coronavirus outbreak leads to shortage

DETROIT – Since the start of the coronavirus outbreak around 7,000 Red Cross blood drives have been cancelled, resulting in 200,000 fewer blood donations.

The Red Cross said it is an alarming and unprecedented situation. It’s not the empty store shelves that the Zhmendak family is worried about, it’s the rapidly emptying blood banks.

Two family members, Logan and Mia Zhmendak have a rare bone marrow failure disorder called Diamond Blackfan Anemia. They both fail to produce their own red blood cells.

Mia, 10, has responded to steroid therapy but Logan, 12, has needed a blood transfusion at C.S. Mott Children’s hospital every three weeks since he was born.

The family is grateful to those who have come out to donate blood during these difficult times. They’re encouraging people who’ve never donated blood before to donate now.

“We just thank everybody in the community for all of their past donations and their future donations and we wish everybody lots of health during this time,” said Regan Zhmendak, Mia and Logan’s mother.

Logan Zhmendak has a message for his donors.

“Thank you, and I hope they keep donating,” said Logan Zhmendak.

The Red Cross is taking extra steps during this time to keep donors safe. You can make an appointment to donate through the Red cross app or by clicking here.

Every single donation can help save up to three lives.

The FDA said there have been no reported or suspected cases of COVID-19 infections related to donating or receiving blood.

MORE: Here’s which Michigan counties have confirmed cases of coronavirus

How COVID-19 Spreads

Person-to-person spread

The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person.

  • Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet).
  • Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.

Can someone spread the virus without being sick?

  • Spread is possible before people show symptoms. People who are not showing symptoms can still be carrying the virus and can still pass it on to other people.

Spread from contact with contaminated surfaces or objects

It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.

How easily the virus spreads

How easily a virus spreads from person-to-person can vary. Some viruses are highly contagious (spread easily), like measles, while other viruses do not spread as easily. Another factor is whether the spread is sustained, spreading continually without stopping.

Prevention & Treatment

There is currently no vaccine to prevent coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus. However, as a reminder, CDC always recommends everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory diseases, including:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.

Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.

MORE: Beaumont Health launches coronavirus hotline for patients with symptoms

People who think they may have been exposed to COVID-19 should contact their healthcare provider immediately.

Question about coronavirus? Ask Dr. McGeorge here.

Read more about coronavirus here.


About the Authors: