Giving Blood During a Pandemic

Vampires aren’t the only people who need blood this October

Typically, when students return to campus there are opportunities to help people through community service and engagement. During Welcome Weekend, SLU even incorporates a day of service into the festivities. However, we are also living during a pandemic and normal choices may not be safe. One safe action that students can take is to give blood. The St. Louis Red Cross Donation Center on Lindell Boulevard is steps off SLU’s campus. Blood donations are needed now and always and are still safe during the pandemic. 

In March, our country went on lockdown to keep coronavirus rates from spiking. As the country shut down, many of the community organizations had to close and cancel upcoming blood drives. According to the American Red Cross, there are no blood shortages now but as our country is not back to normal, the Red Cross is not getting the same amount of donations as in the past. It is true that most respiratory viruses do not spread through blood transfusion. Accordingly, there has been no evidence that the coronavirus can spread through blood transfusion. Giving blood is a safe process that can save lives.

While there is no evidence that coronavirus can spread through blood transfusions, it is still important to take precautions when giving blood. The American Red Cross has limited the amount of people that can be in the donation site. Both donors and health personnel are required to wear masks. Giving blood is considered an essential community service. As the U.S. Surgeon General said, “Social distancing does not have to mean social disengagement.” All evidence shows that giving blood is still a safe act of service. 

When students first consider giving blood, it can be a daunting process. The American Red Cross has a mobile app titled “Blood Donor” which is extremely user friendly. Once the user creates an account, you can look up upcoming blood drives that are near you. The app also has a useful feature about how to prepare to give blood, from eating a good breakfast to resting well the night before. After donation, students can track their “blood journey”: donation, processing, testing, storage and completion. You can even see what hospital your blood ends up at! As people donate, there are different badges and accomplishments that come with each donation. You can even join the SLU team of blood donors. 

One bonus of giving blood during the coronavirus is the antibody testing that comes along with each donation. Students can learn if they may have been an asymptomatic carrier. This is important information when students consider their social choices throughout the year. While blood transfusions are not typically needed when treating severe cases of the coronavirus, there is potentially a benefit to plasma donations. Giving COVID-19 patients a transfusion of plasma with positive antibodies is a promising treatment. Donating plasma is another altruistic action that SLU students can do at the Red Cross location on Lindell. 

For students looking to help the community, donating blood or plasma is a safe choice. SLU prides itself as a school that serves others and this is a great way for students to fulfill that mission. The SLU Red Cross team has already saved 800 lives and students who join can add to this total. And for all the Halloween fans, donations during the month of October win the vampire badge on the Red Cross app!