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Stanford Blood Center faces shortages in light of COVID-19

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Stanford Blood Center (SBC) faces a blood supply shortage due to a lack of donors caused by circumstances surrounding the COVID-19 outbreak and the Santa Clara County “shelter-in-place” order.

“Due to numerous blood drive cancellations, we are projecting a loss of over 700 blood products (and counting) for the next 30 days, and we are preparing for decreased donor availability in the long term,” wrote SBC Chief Medical Officer Suchitra Pandey in an email to The Daily. “The average monthly need for blood by our partner hospitals is approximately 3,500 blood products per month.”

Pandey said people may be concerned about leaving their houses, especially because of the Santa Clara County’s shelter-in-place order. The order, which was announced on Monday and went into effect at 12:01 a.m. on Tuesday, instructs county residents to stay at home except for “essential business.” 

However, blood centers are exempt from the order and considered “essential services and essential infrastructure.” SBC has reached out to the public health department to confirm donors are able to leave their homes to give blood, Pandey said. 

“There is still an ongoing need for blood at the hospital, and there always will be, so we have to make sure that we maintain our blood supply,” she added.

Human Biology Program Core Associate Cole Holderman ’19 has been donating weekly to the SBC for the last year. Holderman was informed of the shortage during his most recent visit to the center on Saturday and has since then been encouraging others to donate blood.

“My brother was a cancer patient, and his treatment would not have been possible without dozens of blood products that supported him through his chemotherapy,” Holderman said. “When I think about blood supply running short, I imagine people like my brother dying in hospitals because we are running out of these crucial supplies.”

Pandey said donating blood is safe and that SBC has been taking additional measures to enhance safety, such as more frequent cleaning of common areas.

“All of the common areas like the canteen, the reception area, the donor beds and the history booths are cleaned multiple times during blood drives and collection hours,” she said. “Because blood donors are required to be healthy, blood centers and blood drives are places where you have healthy people, so the risk of exposure to COVID-19 is low.”

Contact Camryn Pak at cpak23 ‘at’ stanford.edu.

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Camryn Pak '23 is a desk editor for news. She is majoring in American Studies with a focus on Inequality, Media and the Law. Contact her at cpak23 'at' stanford.edu.