Blood centers see drop in donations amid concerns over coronavirus

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- The American Red Cross issued a public plea after noticing a significant drop in donations surrounding the fear of the coronavirus over the last week.

In the Valley, Central California blood centers are urging donors to help meet the needs of the hospitals in the five counties they serve.

"The patients who need blood are cancer patients, anemic patients, trauma patients, labor and delivery patients, so that need will continue," said Christopher Staub, CEO of the Central California Blood Center.

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Staub says they've only seen a few blood drive cancellations, but that still impacts the blood supply.

"One single high school in our region will provide enough blood at a blood drive to supply the entire five-county area that we service for a whole day."

Donations are also on the decline but that doesn't change the blood center's 6,000 pint per month minimum to keep up with demand.

"It's safe to donate blood. Our facilities follow all the standards from the CDC and OSHA," says Staub.

It's something Jeff Gong knows first hand. He's been donating platelets every two weeks for years.

"I know there are people in need so it's the least I can do," says Gong.

While the platelet donation could take up to two hours, a blood donation takes just 15 minutes.

"Make sure you wash your hands, if you're sick, stay home and if you're healthy, donate blood," says Staub.

Every pint of blood donation can save up to three lives.
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