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San Diego Blood Bank Asks For Donations As Supplies Dwindle

Blood is donated at San Diego State, Feb 9, 2018.

Photo by Elma Gonzalez Lima Brandao

Above: Blood is donated at San Diego State, Feb 9, 2018.

The San Diego Blood Bank reached out to the public Tuesday asking for blood donations amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The fast-spreading respiratory illness has resulted in school closures and work-from-home policies throughout San Diego County, forcing the bank to cancel blood drives.

The San Diego Blood Bank collects more than half of its blood supply on bloodmobiles stationed at these blood drives, according to the company.

"The U.S. is on the verge of a serious blood shortage that will lead to blood rationing and triage," said David Wellis, CEO of San Diego Blood Bank. "We need healthy people to come out to donate immediately. Supplies are dropping to critical levels."

Individuals are not at risk of contracting the coronavirus from donating blood, and the virus poses no known risk to patients receiving transfusions, officials said.

"It's safe to donate blood," said Admiral Brett Giroir, Assistant Secretary of Health. "Part of preparedness includes a robust blood supply."

As a safety precaution, San Diego Blood Bank is currently deferring people who have traveled to areas with World Health Organization level 3 travel notices (China, Italy, Iran, South Korea, France and Spain, among others) for 28 days from their date of departure from the outbreak area. If donors have been exposed to or treated for coronavirus, they are also deferred for 28 days. People experiencing coronavirus symptoms, including fever, cough and shortness of breath, should not attempt to donate.

"It's important to note that blood collection activities are not `mass gatherings,' rather they are controlled blood drives conducted using appropriate infection control mechanisms intended to assure the safety of the products, donors and staff," said Doug Morton, COO of San Diego Blood Bank. "San Diego Blood Bank is highly regulated and is following best practices, such as properly cleaning surfaces between donation."

The blood bank encourages all healthy individuals to donate blood. To be eligible to donate blood, you must be at least 17 years old, weigh at least 114 pounds, and be in general good health. To make an appointment, visit www.sandiegobloodbank.org or call 619-400-8251.

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