COVID-19: Texas Blood Institute Urges Donations Amid Concerns

Blood donation can’t wait.

Blood donation is safe and critically important, despite concerns surrounding coronavirus (COVID-19). Texas Blood Institute is, as always, committed to safety for our donors, patients, and communities, and we urge you to keep your scheduled appointments and continue to donate blood.


News: Texas Blood Institute Collecting Convalescent Plasma to Aid Local COVID-19 Patients

The Food & Drug Administration (FDA) reports no cases of COVID-19 transmitted through blood transfusion, and respiratory viruses generally are not known to be transmitted by blood transfusion.

“We need people to start turning out in force to give blood,” said Peter Marks, M.D., Ph.D., director of the FDA.

Find a blood drive.

Texas Blood Institute is following safety recommendations set forth by the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC). Texas Blood Institute is committed to maintaining the safest standards for blood collection, testing and transfusion. Our donor centers and blood drives practice rigorous safety and cleanliness standards. As Texas Blood Institute monitors this rapidly developing situation, we will immediately inform the community about any changes in procedures or processes.

Texas Blood Institute’s donor centers and mobile blood drives have instituted additional cleaning methods, decontaminating work and common areas and equipment frequently. In addition, phlebotomy and donor services staff will wear masks and donor centers and mobile blood drives have been adapted to allow for social distancing.

We respectfully require donors to wear a mask in the donor area, as a courtesy to other donors and staff. If you don’t have a mask, please ask our staff and one will be provided for you. Thank you for your help in protecting others! All staff and donors will also have their temperatures taken before starting work or entering the facility. We are limiting the number of donors in the donor area, to allow for social distancing. If the donor area is full, please give us your cell phone number and we will call you when you’re ready to enter.

In an abundance of caution, we ask that donors refrain from giving blood if they have been diagnosed with or suspected of having COVID-19, unless it’s been 14 days since the complete resolution of symptoms; or if they’ve tested positive for COVID-19, but never developed symptoms, unless it’s been 14 days since the positive test.

“Although COVID-19 is a new virus and more research is needed on how it spreads, current strategies for preventing and minimizing acute respiratory illnesses – including COVID-19 and the seasonal flu – remain relevant and timely,” said Tuan Le, M.D., chief medical officer of Texas Blood Institute.

Dr. Le stresses:

  • Practice cough & sneeze etiquette
  • Stay home when sick
  • Clean hands often with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer or soap and water for at least 20 seconds
  • Avoid touching your face after touching surfaces

As COVID-19 and resulting concerns continue to spread, additional challenges to the blood supply have occurred, including canceled and postponed blood drives. Texas Blood Institute depends on 1,200 donors per day to support the inventory needed for patients in all major hospitals in the Texoma region.  

“Blood is a perishable product and we need constant donations not only to meet our community needs, but in case of local and national emergencies,” said John Armitage, M.D., president and CEO of Texas Blood Institute. “We urge healthy adults to continue their regular blood donations so the lifesaving supply can be maintained for our local patients who depend on blood products during treatment for cancer, traumatic injuries and other life-threatening conditions.”


“During routine blood donation screening, we ask donors if they are feeling well and healthy at the time of their donation,” said Dr. Le. “We always ask that donors who are not feeling well refrain from giving blood until they’re healthy.”

Blood donation typically takes only about an hour, and one donation saves up to three lives. Appointments can be made by calling 1-877-340-8777 or clicking here or visiting our Wichita Falls donor center.

*To give blood, 16 year olds must weigh at least 125 pounds and provide signed parental permission; 17 year olds must weigh at least 125 pounds; 18+ year olds must weigh at least 110 pounds

We're committed to your safety. We've instituted additional cleaning efforts, using EPA-approved cleaning solutions in high-touch, high-traffic areas. We take the temperaturs of all staff and donors entering any donation area to ensure they don't have a fever. Donor centers and mobile blood drives have been adjusted to allow space for social distancing.















Follow Texas Blood Institute’s social media platforms for developments on the situation:

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

What is COVID-19?

COVID-19 is an acute respiratory illness caused by a new coronavirus that originated in China in December 2019. The illness causes symptoms like fever, cough and shortness of breath, but can be severe in some at-risk populations.

How do I keep from getting COVID-19?

COVID-19 is generally thought to be spread from person-to-person through respiratory droplets like the common flu, so observing everyday preventative actions for respiratory diseases is critical: stay home if you’re sick, practice good sneeze/cough etiquette, wash your hands often with soap and water or an alcohol-based sanitizer, and regularly clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

Will I be safe while donating blood?

Yes. Although we collect blood and blood products, we’re not a medical facility and ask only healthy donors to visit these locations to donate.

Is COVID-19 dangerous for blood donors?

No, the CDC has found no evidence that COVID-19 is spread through the blood or blood donations.

Can COVID-19 be transmitted through blood donation?

No, the CDC has found no evidence that COVID-19 can be transmitted either through a blood exposure or a blood donation. In similar respiratory illness outbreaks like SARS or MERS, no evidence of transmissions through blood products was seen.

Do you screen blood for COVID-19?

We don’t test for this illness, as the FDA has no approved screening test for blood donors and the illness is not shown to be transmitted through blood. Our testing laboratory is on the forefront of technology and conducts more than a dozen tests on each sample to ensure its safety. As a free service, we are testing blood for COVID-19 antibodies* for donors 18+ and will notify donors of their result. *This test has not been formally approved by the FDA and is not intended to establish a diagnosis or treatment of COVID-19.

Do you have safety procedures in place for your donor centers and blood drives?

Our operating procedures meet strict FDA regulations and OSHA standards to ensure workplace safety. We encourage all staff, volunteers and donors to take routine preventative actions – as recommended by the CDC – to help prevent the spread of acute respiratory illnesses, like the seasonal flu and COVID-19. We've added additional cleaning procedures, shifted our donation areas to allow for social distancing and are taking the temperatures of each donor and employee who enter our donor areas to ensure they’re feeling well. Our donor services and phlebotomy staff are also wearing masks and donors are welcome to wear their own masks or facial coverings. We respectfully require donors to wear a mask in the donor area, as a courtesy to other donors and staff. If you don't have a mask, please ask our staff and one will be provided for you. Thank you for your help in protecting others!

Should donors wait to donate blood because of COVID-19?

No, please donate blood or platelets as you’re able. Blood is a perishable product that requires continual donations to ensure a healthy supply.

What is the organization doing about COVID-19?

Your Blood Institute’s executive management and medical staff have been monitoring the rapidly changing situation of COVID-19 since the first reported case in December 2019. We have been using resources within our blood organization’s networks of BCA (Blood Centers of America), ABC (America’s Blood Centers), and AABB (formerly American Associations of Blood Banks). In addition, we have been monitoring situation reports from the CDC and WHO, along with updates from the state public health departments in Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Texas to track the local, regional, and national developments of COVID-19.

Who do I call if I have questions about the coronavirus or blood donation?

If you have questions about COVID-19 or the state’s response, please contact the Texas Department of State Health by calling 211 and choosing option 6. If donors have questions about their planned blood donation, please contact our customer service line at 877-340-8777.

Has anything like this ever happened before? What were the results?

In the past, acute respiratory illness outbreaks like SARS (2002), H1N1 flu (2009), and MERS (2012) were contained due to prevention measures, public health interventions, medical detection, isolation and care of patients. In these outbreaks, no evidence was seen of blood transmission by the viruses. COVID-19 is an acute respiratory illness caused by a new coronavirus, so research is ongoing into this virus’s specific transmission and effects in humans.

Are you observing social distancing?

Donor centers and mobile blood drives have been adjusted to allow space for social distancing. On bloodmobiles, staff are placing donors to allow for maximum distance between visitors. In addition, we strongly encourage appointments to be made to help us manage how many donors are present at one time. Donors can also wait in their vehicles after checking in with staff, if they prefer.

How are you making sure staff and donors are healthy?

As always, we ask only healthy staff and donors to come to our centers and mobile units. In addition, we screen all donor services staff at the beginning of their shift, taking temperatures to ensure no one has a fever or feels ill. All donors will also have their temperature taken before entering the blood donor area.

Should we be donating blood right now?

Yes! Donating blood is an essential health care activity and is critical to avoiding a blood supply crisis. For those wanting to help but don’t know where to start, donating blood is a safe and easy way to protect our communities in a time of need. As U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams said, “You can still go out and give blood. We’re worried about potential blood shortages in the future. Social distancing does not have to mean social disengagement.”

Bob Grant