Majority of nation’s blood banks have one-day supply or less of Type O blood, officials say.
The U.S. blood supply is at critically low levels after Covid-19 shutdowns have emptied community centers, universities, places of worship and other venues where blood drives typically occur.
The American Red Cross, which supplies about 40% of the nation’s blood, said more than 30,000 planned blood drives have been canceled since mid-March.
Even as some businesses, schools and community groups make plans to reopen in coming months, they have told the Red Cross they don’t anticipate sponsoring blood drives in the near future.
...The majority of the nation’s blood banks now have a one-day supply or less of Type O blood, according to blood bank officials. Typically, blood banks try to maintain a three-to-four-day supply. Type O blood is in the most demand because it can be given to people in any blood group.
...Blood banks, hospitals and other collectors are looking for ways to motivate people to come donate. The Red Cross is offering a $5 Amazon.com gift card via email to people who come in to donate through June 30. Last month, the organization offered a Red Cross T-shirt by mail to donors.
...Brian Gannon, chief executive of Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center in Houston, which serves around 175 hospitals and health-care institutions, said starting June 14 his center would test blood donations for antibodies to the Covid-19 infection, a motivational offer that other blood centers also have been making.
Give blood if you can. Many people cannot donate because of certain conditions or past infections, so the pool of donors is smaller than one might think.
I am an O+ blood type (widely compatible*) and I am considering giving blood, but doing so seems incompatible with high altitude hikes and thus my work, so I have not yet decided whether to proceed. I need to look at how much blood is taken and the recovery time and how it might impact my ability to work—I am in no position to give up any income whatsoever.
Getting paid for donating blood is not a consideration for me in this matter... but why are people not paid a market price for their blood? Outrageous hospital fees profit the medical industry handsomely—but that you cannot get paid good money for your own blood strikes me as a grotesque inversion of morality.
O-positive vs O-negative blood
For emergency transfusions, blood group type O negative blood is the variety of blood that has the lowest risk of causing serious reactions for most people who receive it. Because of this, it's sometimes called the universal blood donor type.
lood group types are based on proteins called antigens that are present on red blood cells. There are major antigens and minor antigens coating the red blood cells. Based on the major antigens, blood groups may be classified as one of these four types:
- Type A
- Type B
- Type AB
- Type O
Blood is also classified by rhesus (Rh) factor. If your blood has the Rh factor, you're Rh positive. If your blood lacks the Rh factor, you're Rh negative.
Ideally, blood transfusions are done with donated blood that's an exact match for type and Rh factor. Even then, small samples of the recipient's and donor's blood are mixed to check compatibility in a process known as crossmatching.
In an emergency, type O negative red blood cells may be given to anyone — especially if the situation is life-threatening or the matching blood type is in short supply.
Peter O writes:
I've given gallons of blood over the years, starting in high school (I'm now in my 40's). If you give in the traditional fashion (i.e., whole blood), they take 1 pint. I've always enjoyed the process, and personally have experienced a feeling similar to a runner's high for a few days after giving (although not always). Sometimes you get a green phlebotomist who has trouble finding the vein, but that's been rare. Never any major negative effects, but I'm not an endurance athlete, nor do I live at a high altitude. However I do run, bike, & hike, and like to think I'm in tune with my body. It seems to take a week to feel 100% back up to speed. They say you should wait ~56 days between donations, so I can only presume it takes roughly that long on average to fully restore your supply, but my guess is that varies based on health and nutrition.
I always give through the Red Cross. They do offer the alternative of giving platelets or plasma instead of whole blood. In each case, your blood is separated in a machine and red blood cells and plasma (or platelets) returned to you, which speeds up recovery time and limits stress on your body. I've never done this, but many people do. It takes a bit longer (~1.25 hrs) due to the separation process. Might be a better option if you are concerned about recovery time.
The toughest part is finding a place to donate and scheduling. They don't make it easy. I typically give at blood drives hosted by employers, but that is non-existent now with COVID/working from home. I think that's probably the biggest hit to blood supplies -- the lack of easy access to donate. Red Cross should really get the Bloodmobiles out into some of these suburban locations where folks are working from home and have time to give, if it's made more convenient.
WIND: I imagine that ordinary exercise is not much affected, But try working out at up to 95% of max heart rate even at sea level, and a loss of oxygen (blood carrying capacity) is a big deal, not to mention at 11800' where I am now. If it takes a week to feel normal with casual exercise, then serious training surely is much longer.
If you want less of anything, tax it, or charge for it, or add friction.
The blood donation situation hits 2 of those three points: you as a donor not only get no compensation but in effect have to shell out money to donate. The friction of time spent and thus income lost (for me at least) means very high friction. And that’s not even counting the physical impact.
I agree that access is too hard—for me it would scarf up nearly half a day by the time I drive/park/donate/wait/drive home. That’s a HUGE hit to me as a self-employed person. Why the hell should I donate half a day of my time (time = money) which in effect is writing a check for the privilege of donating blood? Why don’t I get a free health care visit with a doctor, as these institutions ream me with a huge bill for a basic 10-minute medical checkup e.g. $400 for a dermatology exam? This is a grossly unethical state of affairs in which the medical establishment profits at the expense of donors. The only thing that makes me consider donating blood is that there is a person out there who well benefit. The in-between stuff is disgusting.
Concerning blood donations: I am a blood donator with the German Red Cross since many years and it never affected my cycling sports. They always take 500ml (= half a litre) and usually urge me not to enter races or embark onto very long tours for the next three days. This is it. Usually they tour the inner cities and market places with specially equipped trucks, which can process five donators simultaneously. So people can donate on-the-fly while they are in the city for shopping.
You are right that one could expect some kind of compensation for a donation. Sometimes they indeed hand out little presents (umbrellas, power banks and the like), but not on a regular basis.
For me it is, among other things, a contribution to the society. What I get in return is a safe life in a society which works quite well and helps me in times of trouble.
WIND: I’ll end up donating at some point, not for “society” but for that face or two I know I’ll have helped. But maybe that is saying the same thing a different way.
I think Europeans don’t quite understand how expensive and f*ed up our health care system is, so compensation for blood donation in the context of financial ruin for some of us takes on a whole new perspective. My financial life was destroyed by ObamaCare so it’s “personal” for me.
Intravenous vitamin C has been the object of numerous studies regarding its function as adjuvant therapy on critical patients’ care, included ARDS of diverse etiology. In the context of a coronavirus pandemic, with an elevated morbimortality and pressure over the sanitary system, it is of vital importance to use every available resource to improve patients’ outcomes in an accessible and safe way. In this article, I briefly analyze the evidence around the use of vitamin C in the critical patient and its potential benefits on admission time, intubation time and mortality on patients affected by ARDS.
...Humans are one of the few vertebrates that can’t synthesize vitamin C, therefore it is considered to be an essential nutrient. It’s estimated that 7% of the general population is deficient in vitamin C, but this percentage increases to 47% in admitted patients...
...Therapeutic effects are achieved with plasmatic levels in the range of 20-49 mmol/L (100 times higher than those achieved by oral intake) only possible with intravenous infusion.
...Regarding the evidence around vitamin C’s mechanisms of action, certain preclinical findings might explain the effects observed on respiratory distress. Vitamin C down-regulates inflammatory genes and inhibits the cytokine storm responsible for the activation of pulmonary neutrophils, therefore protecting alveolar capillaries from inflammatory damage. In addition to this, it enhances alveolary fluid clearance by increasing the water transporter channel expression.
In regards to its safety, most studies report no adverse effects on large doses of vitamin C. On rare occasions, the following have been described: Hypersensitivity, oxalate urolithiasis, iron overload in haemochromatosis and anaemia among others, most of them with a prevalence less than 1%. It has also been described the inaccuracy of bedside glucometry when using vitamin C and it is advised to corroborate findings with laboratory results.
We live in times of incalculable need. Worldwide medical supplies are in shortage, costs threat to crush even the wealthiest of health care systems, and above all the wellbeing of millions of humans is at risk. Treatment of severe ARDS from COVID-19 is an ongoing challenge and a specific treatment could be months ahead. The evidence around vitamin C is scarce but promising. There probably never was and never will be a better time than the current to explore and make use of every possible tool that could allow us to improve patients’ prognosis and expand the body of evidence for the benefit of all.
Kudos to the doctor who wrote this! But the risks are far smaller than virtually all prescription drugs, so the excessive caution is just ridiculous. When proper risk assessment is done, it goes beyond idiotic to not to move aggressively to intravenous Vitamin C for impacted patients.
AWESOME to see at least some doctors saying that nutrition may be a factor in mitigating COVID-19—which of course it is—nutrition being the most imporant factor of all fir a strong immune system and that starts by avoiding all nutritional deficiencies.
The reason that admitted patients are deficient in Vitamin C is that Vitamin C is used by the body to combat viruses and bacterio and their toxins. Very high dose intravenous Vitamin C has been proven to CURE severe viral illnesses in as little as 4 days. But this fact is little known, not in the accepted medical textbooks and ignored by the allopathic (traditional ) medical establishment. Studies showing it doesn’t work are awesomely flawed in failing to use the protocols of F. R. Klenner and therefore erroneously “prove” that it does not work.
WHY are we letting patients go acute when multiple nutritional deficiencies can be addressed for the entire population at a cost per person far less than 0.1% of the cost of a hospitalization? Deficiencies of Vitamin D deficiency, magnesium deficiency are tightly linked to immune system function. And why is intravenous Vitamin C not a top worldwide health priority? Maybe the same reason that the allopathic medical establishment ignores magnesium deficiency as a driver of the suffering and death of tens of millions—money and arrogance. Word is getting out but very slowly because few doctors dare to do anything but follow dogmatic medical practice—a fundamentally unethical approach to human health.