Urgent appeal to healthy people: Please give blood now!

Why giving blood now?

Due to the Corona pandemic – there is now a severe shortage of blood products as blood donor drives across the world are being cancelled.

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MDSA Blood Appeal - Graphic for Twitter

Why is this so critical?

About 70% of all patients suffering from the rarer blood cancer Myelodysplastic Syndrome are anaemic and become blood transfusion dependent during the course of their disease. Since their anaemia is “refractory”, they are in need of regular blood transfusions, with many requiring  red blood or platelets several times per month, to stay alive.

Severe anaemia causes extreme fatigue, breathlessness, dizziness, and – if no action is taken, death, if the blood levels drop critically low.

Donor dropouts and limits on how many people are allowed to occupy a building or facility amid the crisis are just two of the reasons for these forced cancellations. These factors have raised tremendous concerns among experts regarding the blood stocks for future surgical operations, cancer and blood disease patients. Patients with chronic hematological diseases are often in need of regular blood transfusions, specifically red blood cells, platelets and sometimes plasma.

The most significant risk to blood stocks posed by COVID-19 is a lack of availability due to this decrease in donations. The situation becomes worse as blood products have a strict use-by date. It would not be wise to wait until the shelves of the blood banks are empty. Fast and effective action is needed immediately.

Healthy volunteers are urgently requested to donate blood NOW and throughout the next few months, for the sake of patients dependent on blood transfusions due to surgery or blood diseases.

What can you do?

Healthy individuals should schedule an appointment to donate blood during the Corona pandemic to ensure that sufficient supplies are available.

Attending a blood donation drive is allowed as an essential event, even if the country is under lock-down.

Don’t be put off if the next slot is not available till April, June or July. Donors will be required for many months to come. Book it please.

Google “Blood Donations” and contact your local blood collection organisation to see if you are eligible – and where to attend the next donor drive.

What happens if we don’t act now?

Imagine highly anaemic, weak and exhausted patients going to a hospital to receive a blood transfusion – in order to stay alive. But – being turned away because there is no blood left.

It is as dramatic as it sounds, those patients will potentially die of multiple organ failure within days or a  few weeks.

Two statements for all Corona-affected countries, regions and hospitals:

Right now, the Red Cross is distributing blood donations faster than they are coming in,” Paul Sullivan, Senior Vice-President of the American Red Cross, told ABC News on March,17th.

Dr. Chris Lough, Vice-President of Medical Services for LifeSouth in the U.S., said, “If we continue to see blood drives cancel, we are going to reach a level of inventory of which we haven’t seen in the past.

Blood donors are needed now more than ever.

PLEASE NOTE:  “Respiratory viruses, like COVID-19, are not known to be transmitted by blood transfusion and no cases of transfusion-transmitted coronaviruses have been reported,” said Dr.Chris Lough, Vice-President of Medical Services for LifeSouth in the U.S.

Blood is cooled in transportation cases. Donors who have recently travelled to risk areas or those who have had contact with someone diagnosed with coronavirus are asked to postpone their donation for 28 days. Before entering a donation center, donors have their temperature taken and apply hand sanitizer. Blood centers are taking every precaution to minimize the risk to blood donors, including appropriate physical distance between people.

MDS patients – please ask your healthy relatives and friends to become or remain a volunteer donor. Please spread the word about the urgent need to help stop the threat of low blood stocks worldwide

In Germany the Red Cross, hospitals and blood banks have all  heard the warning. In the last few days, we have seen press releases about organised voluntary blood donations in many cities. During Corona lockdown, this is an opportunity to leave the house to perform a seriously worthwhile action.

As a person affected by the blood cancer MDS myself and in regular need of red blood cells, I am very grateful that many of my friends and my sons immediately went to donate blood, when I made them aware of the problem. If I had not told them – they would not have realised. Please talk about it around you.

To MDS Alliance Members: Take Action Now!

  1. Please add a request for blood donations on your own national MDS and leukaemia websites. You can use the text in this post.
  2. Download the images for your own campaign and add your organisation logo. You’ll find images in English, French, German, Italian and Spanish.  
    CLICK HERE TO PREVIEW THE GRAPHICS AND DOWNLOAD THEM
  3. Share the images on social media!

Thank you.

Blood = keeps us alive. A lack of blood = our lifeline stops

Bergit Korschan-Kuhle, MDS-Alliance Steering Committee Member, Germany; MDS-Patient,
and – recipient of over 660 blood transfusions since 2008