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ABC57 Investigates: Is it safe to donate blood amid coronavirus outbreak?

ABC57 Investigates: Is it safe to donate blood amid coronavirus outbreak?

SOUTH BEND, Ind. --- As the COVID-19 cases continue to spread around the globe and in Indiana, for many the virus could keep people away from normal activities.

For some in Michiana, donating blood is one of those regular activities. With the constant need for blood donors in the community, ABC57 investigated whether or not it is actually safe for people to donate blood.

“They always need blood and we’ve got to take care of each other,” Geoff DiPiro said, who lives in Elkhart.

That draws into question whether or not taking care of one another by donating blood could pose a risk to the community’s health as the coronavirus continues to spread.

However, the short answer is no, as the virus is not known to infect patients through blood transfusions.

“If you’re healthy, it’s safe and easy to come in and donate,” Mary Annkrapp said, Blood Donor Recruitment Supervisor.

The South Bend Medical Foundation is working closely with the FDA and CDC every day to monitor guidelines throughout the coronavirus outbreak.

The South Bend Medical Foundation is currently asking anyone who has traveled to countries with higher cases of the coronavirus such as China, South Korea, Iran and Italy to self-deter from donating blood for 28 days.

“Right now it is just considered a self-deferral; we’re asking the donors to self-defer,” Annkrapp said. “We haven’t had anybody as of yet come in that has traveled to those areas.”

The foundation also asks anyone who feels sick about a week or so after donating to contact the facility. The blood donation center will then go through the symptoms with the donor and decided whether or not it is necessary to remove that blood unit.

All donors also go through a mini physical before they are cleared to donate.

“What we do is we check their temperature for one and if their temperature is out of range they cannot donate,” Annkrapp said.

A few long-time donors said they did not have anything to worry about when deciding to donate blood.

“There’s precautions that need to be taken,” DiPiro said. “But I wasn’t worried about getting infected here.”

“Not weary, I’m not, you know, nothing, I’m not scared at all,” Melissa DeBroka said, who lives in Mishawaka. “Just wash your hands.”

Annkrapp said that if people cancel their donation appointments, it could come to a point where they do not have enough blood to supply for people in desperate need.

“If somebody needs blood, it’s life threatening and they need it—life or death,” Annkrapp said. “And so, if we don’t have donors coming in, then the consequences are that we can’t help a patient.”

The South Bend Medical Foundation will continue to monitor safety updates from the FDA and CDC as they come.

The foundation is constantly in need of blood and if you are interested in donating, you can find more information here and here.

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