FDA Changes (updated April 6, 2020)
We, along with America’s Blood Centers, are commending the FDA for their support during the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic. The FDA recently announced changes regarding eligibility of certain previously deferred donors.
Those changes include shortened deferral periods for individuals at higher risk of HIV, including men who have sex with men (MSM), and individuals receiving recent blood transfusions, accidental blood exposures, tattoos and piercings. The FDA also finalized guidance on Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease (CJD) and variant CJD which will make eligible individuals who spent time in numerous European countries or on military bases in Europe.
We are actively working to implement the FDA-announced changes. This will take time as we work diligently to modify our protocols and computer systems, which must be done in a controlled manner in accordance with good manufacturing practices, and train our staff.
We appreciate your patience during this time, and we will continue to provide updates as often as we can. Thank you for working with our community save lives!
Blood Center Response to COVID-19
As you may have heard, we’ve been sounding the alarm about the dire need for blood donations during the rapidly developing national situation related to COVID-19 (coronavirus).
Locally, we have lost more than 3,000 units of blood because of cancelled mobile blood drives, and the number continues to increase as businesses remain closed or unwilling to sponsor on-site drives.
Our community has been responding, and we are grateful for that. We want to take this time to update you on actions we’ve taken to ensure donor and staff safety in our facilities.
- First off, anyone feeling healthy and well must first schedule an appointment to donate blood. Scheduled appointments will help us minimize crowds at our facilities and manage the flow of donors so we can follow federal guidelines on social distancing.
- Please also consider scheduling your donation in the coming days or weeks. This is expected to be an ongoing crisis, and we need to maintain a constant local blood supply. Blood has a short shelf life (42 days for whole blood and five days for platelets), and it’s the blood already on the shelves that saves lives.
- We have launched a program called QuickPass that allows you to answer your donor questions on the same day of your appointment. Doing so can reduce your donation time and time spent in our donor centers.
- Our facilities already follow strict guidelines on quality and cleanliness, and we have taken additional steps to adhere to federal requirements. We have moved our donation beds, chairs in our waiting areas and canteen/snack stations further apart. We are also wiping down stations between donations.
- Only healthy people should attempt to donate. Please stay home or cancel your appointment if you don’t feel well or if you have any COVID-19 symptoms (fever, cough or shortness of breath). Health screening is already part of the donation process, and our staff members are also taking their own temperatures to ensure they can keep working.
Again, we ask for your patience and flexibility when scheduling an appointment. We appreciate your consideration and your dedication to helping us save lives.
Like the ALS Association did with the ice bucket challenge, the Illinois Coalition of Community Blood Centers has launched the #GiveBloodChallenge to encourage people to donate blood. Here’s how to participate:
- Schedule an donation.
- Take a photo at any point during your donation, post it to social media, and tag us and 10 friends to do the same on social media. Use the hashtag #GiveBloodChallenge.