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Blood donations deemed OK by health officials, despite virus

Although most of the country is being asked to practice social distancing and avoid large crowds, health officials in the federal government are encouraging people to still give blood.

Statements from the American Red Cross and LifeSouth Community Blood Centers have said the forced cancelation of blood drives due to the COVID-19, also known as coronavirus, are negatively impacting the blood supply for hospitals.

LifeSouth, along with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, urges donors to donate blood now and pleads for organizations to host blood drives. Blood donors are needed every day, and anyone who is in good health is encouraged to donate.

LifeSouth said in a news release that the coronavirus does not pose any known risk to blood donors during the donation process.

“We have already seen a significant decrease in donations as the outbreak progresses and are facing a critical public health risk if the blood supply continues to decline,” LifeSouth’s Vice President of Medical Services Dr. Chris Lough said in a news release.

Admiral Brett P. Giroir, M.D. Assistant Secretary for Health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, said in a news release that it’s safe to donate. However, if a person is not feeling well when they plan to give blood, they should not do so.

“Part of preparedness includes a robust blood supply,” he said in a news release. “Healthy individuals should schedule an appointment to donate today to ensure that blood is available for those patients who need it.”

LifeSouth District Community Development Coordinator Melinda Hinds said LifeSouth supplies 100 percent of all blood products for the hospital in LaGrange.

She said the organization needs all blood types. Hospitals place orders to the LifeSouth each morning for needed blood products, and then LifeSouth delivers the products to the hospital labs to meet the needs of patients.

The requirements to donate are that a person must be more than 110 pounds, at least 17 years of age, have photo identification, and must be in good health on the day of donation. Donors can also be 16 years old if they have their parent’s consent.

According to LifeSouth’s website, there is one blood drive scheduled at Walmart on New Franklin Road in LaGrange from noon to 6 p.m. on March 20.