People donating bloodA message from David Lubarsky, CEO of UC Davis Health and vice chancellor of Health and Human Services at UC Davis. (Originally published March 26, 2020 on LinkedIn)

One of the more heartening, and somewhat ironic, developments as the health care system and all of America battle COVID-19 has been the rise of a powerful sense of community – we feel we’re all in this together, even as so many people isolate themselves to flatten the curve.

Now, UC Davis Health and many other hospitals and health care providers are hoping to turn that spirit toward another crucial need: blood donations. Along with social distancing, this is another extremely important way people can fight back and support each other.

As we work to slow COVID-19 and treat patients, other medical demands have not diminished. People are still sick, still get in car crashes and still need live-saving surgeries. But the flow of blood donations has been reduced to a trickle, as more than 2,700 blood drives were cancelled across the nation by last week. They were victims of social distancing orders, some confusion and some ungrounded fears.

If all of us do not respond, our communities and our country will have a second health crises. The American Red Cross says that every two seconds someone in America needs blood.

UC Davis Health and hospitals everywhere are bracing for the challenges as COVID-19 infections increase. At the same time, we are the inland Northern California center for trauma victims, cancer patients and babies needing intensive care, as well as for patients with other complex and urgent medical needs. The lives of those patients often hang in the balance as we work to ensure an adequate blood supply for transfusions. In addition, the supply needs to be continuous. Platelets, used to help with clotting, for instance, only have a shelf life of five days.

It is vitally important that potential donors understand that giving blood is safe. Both the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the American Association of Blood Banks certify there is no COVID-19 risk in donating. Please know:

  • Blood banks are meticulously practicing FDA safety protocols and are intensely screening all potential donors.
  • No evidence has shown that respiratory viruses, including the new coronavirus, can transfer through blood.
  • Giving blood has no detrimental impact on a donor’s immune system.

We just finished a two-day blood drive in the lobby of the UC Davis School of Medicine, and I’m proud of how quickly the UC Davis Health family responded and signed up for every available donation slot. I know that same spirit, that sense of community, is everywhere. Americans will respond to the call when asked. I will be signing up as well.

So all of us in health care are asking for your help to take care of all who might need blood. As the Red Cross says, this is a time for heroes. Be a hero and give blood.

Community members can find a nearby blood center by visiting aabb.org. Sacramento area residents can also visit vitalant.org or call 877-25-VITAL.

Learn more about ways you can donate.