Safe to donate blood during the time of coronavirus

Coronavirus and other respiratory virus outbreaks not found in blood
March 24, 2020
Safe-to-donate-blood

More than 100 businesses and schools have canceled blood drives across South Texas due to the coronavirus outbreak. 

With these countless loss of donations, the blood supply here and across the nation is in emergency mode.

With this amount of uncertainty, it’s understandable why donors ask the South Texas Blood & Tissue Center if coronavirus can be carried in blood.

“People are not at risk for contracting coronavirus, either by giving blood or receiving a blood transfusion, and we’re taking every precaution to ensure our donor rooms and bloodmobiles are a healthy environment,” says Dr. Samantha Gomez Ngamsuntikul, associate medical director at STBTC.

Coronavirus is not known to be a bloodborne disease, with no reported cases of it being transmitted through blood transfusion, according to the Food and Drug Administration.

This holds true for earlier outbreaks over the past decades, including the common cold, SARS, swine flu and MERS. 

Because of these patterns, national agencies such as the FDA, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the American Association of Blood Banks say it is unnecessary to test the blood supply for coronavirus. 

This guidance also dispels a rumor on social media that donors receive free testing for coronavirus when they come to give blood.

However, new measures against coronavirus were set in place by STBTC to reassure donors on the safety of donating blood at our drives and rooms:

Individuals are asked to self-defer and not donate blood for 28 days if they have:

  • cared for, lived with, or otherwise had close contact with individuals diagnosed with or suspected of having COVID-19.
  • been diagnosed with or suspected of having COVID-19.

Donors receive a mandatory temperature check at check-in.

Donor beds are sanitized after each donation and are spaced apart (as space allows) per social distancing guidelines.

Designated donor screening areas are sanitized after every use. 

Additional hand sanitation stations at check-in and throughout the donation process

In the chance a donor develops flu symptoms or a diagnosis of coronavirus after donating, STBTC can trace and recall that unit of blood out of an abundance of caution. 

Blood transfusions are not being used to treat coronavirus patients as well.

Even with the latest stay-at-home mandate issued by the City of San Antonio on Monday, donors and employees of STBTC can continue collecting blood and providing it to hospitals to ensure it’s there when it’s needed.

The need for blood never stops, especially during a pandemic. Make the time to schedule an appointment at SouthTexasBlood.org/Give-Now.

The material that appears on this blog is for informational purposes only. In many instances, we are sharing information first reported elsewhere. Posting here does not imply any endorsement of specific research. When available, links to the original research content are available within the blog post. We are not responsible if information we make available on this site is not accurate, complete or current.


More from our blog:

FDA releases draft of changes to blood donor questions

Insights into regenerative medicine: Q&A with Kenneth Bertram

UTRGV interns make a difference