Critical Blood Shortage Amid Covid-19 Outbreak

Sophie Jurion, Editor-in-Chief

Three times a year, Seattle Prep hosts a blood drive where nearly 40 students donate blood for a great cause. Giving blood is an important service that Prep students, faculty, and staff have participated in for the past 6 years. However, due to the COVID-19 outbreak and Seattle Prep’s closure March 13th to April 24th, 2020, the third blood drive of the year is canceled.

But now more than ever, there is a critical need for blood donations. The nation is facing a shortage of supplies ranging from face masks, respirators, and blood. The US government has responded to the COVID-19 pandemic by urging Americans to stay home. Thus, since March 1st, 5,000 drives in schools and workplaces are canceled. As a result, there have been 17,000 fewer donations than there would typically have been.

Rachel Ford, Seattle Prep Director of Christian Service and the organizer of the blood drives each year, emphasizes, “Especially now, where times are uncertain, where students feel like they can’t do anything, donating blood is a concrete thing that students can do.” While this pandemic may cause people to feel helpless and out of control, healthy individuals can feel in control by following the rules of hygiene and quarantine, but also only leaving home to do “essential” things such as go to the grocery, pharmacy, or to a local blood drive.

Donating blood takes an hour, but it is a time well spent because the benefits are boundless. For example, one pint of blood can potentially go to three different people. Every two seconds someone in the US needs blood. Donated blood is a lifeline for victims of car crashes and other emergencies; for instance, a single car accident victim can require as many as 100 units of blood. It is also essential to those who undergo organ transplants and cancer patients who need blood products to boost their immune system.

Although COVID-19 does not directly require blood, shortages could occur because people are hesitant about giving blood during this time. American Red Cross is calling for a cry of help, “One of the most important things you can do to ensure we don’t have another health-care crisis on top of coronavirus is to give [blood] now.”

In addition, people are hesitant to give blood because of their fear for large needles. Ford understands that giving blood is a mental block, but she encourages students to, “think of the patients that have long term chronic issues. For instance, think of the kiddo who every time he/she undergoes cancer treatment, the chemotherapy kills off their blood cells. That kiddo needs blood to stay healthy and survive against cancer.”

Second, there is a fear that volunteering to donate blood is a means of becoming infected with the coronavirus. However, this a myth, because COVID-19 is a respiratory infection, and there is no evidence that it is transmissible by blood transfusion. The Red Cross have implemented “mitigation measures to help ensure blood recipient safety, as well as staff and donor safety in reducing contact with those who may potentially have this respiratory infection.”

Organizations such as,, and, will connect individuals to a local blood drive to schedule an appointment. What’s more, centers will call when they are ready for an individual to come in, to minimize time in the waiting room.

Even if Prep students, teachers, and faculty are quarantined at home, it is encouraged that healthy individuals only leave home to do “essential” things such as buy food, pick up medications, and donate blood.