UNC Health and WakeMed Health & Hospitals Partner With the Blood Connection During Critical Need for Blood

Blood donations plummet due to coronavirus concerns, community urged to donate

RALEIGH, N.C.--()--COVID-19 UPDATE – In an effort to help this community avoid a critical blood shortage, UNC REX and WakeMed are partnering with The Blood Connection (TBC) for a community blood drive on Thursday, March 26, from 10 a.m. - 6 p.m inside the PNC Arena (1400 Edwards Mill Rd). This blood drive will prioritize social distancing to ensure the health and wellness of all donors and staff involved. During the COVID-19 outbreak, blood centers and hospitals are pleading for anyone who is feeling healthy to do their part and donate blood.

UNC REX and WakeMed both receive nearly all of their blood products from TBC. Those products help hundreds of local patients per year. Because TBC’s donations have drastically dropped, this collaboration to host a blood drive will boost community collection efforts during this unprecedented, urgent need. The PNC Arena was chosen because it allows for the recommended social distancing between donor beds and in waiting areas.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) concerns have led to declines in blood donations that have resulted in a national emergency. Last week, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the U.S. Department of Health and the U.S. Military Defense Agency made an urgent appeal for the public to donate blood. For a few weeks now, TBC has seen a sharp increase in blood drive cancellations and very low donor turnout due to fears surrounding the virus, accumulating to a deficit of more than 9,000 units of blood. That number continues to rise. TBC and other blood centers nationwide are concerned that this trend could lead to shortages, which will impact local hospitals who need this blood supply for critical surgeries and more. The FDA and the U.S. Surgeon General have expressed its concern that if donors don’t start turning out, hospitals may have to start canceling surgeries.

Special precautions will be taken during this drive to limit exposure and encourage social distancing. These measures include:

  • Donors will be asked to wait in their cars to eliminate the need for people to gather in the same area before their donation.
  • Donors will be contacted via call or text when TBC is ready to start the donation process.
  • Donor chairs will be spaced as far apart as possible.
  • Donors are strongly encouraged to make an appointment to control social distancing. Make an appointment by visiting this link or by calling 800-392-6551.

“If those who are feeling healthy donate now and encourage others to do the same, there could be little to no impact from COVID-19, and communities’ blood supplies will remain resilient and self-sustaining,” adds Dr. Robert Rainer, Medical Director for The Blood Connection.

“We know that in times of uncertainty, members of our community look for ways to support one another – to be the helpers,” said Deb Laughery, vice president of Marketing & Communications for WakeMed. “This blood drive is critically important to our community, and The Blood Connection and our community partners have taken every precaution possible to ensure that donors can participate in a safe environment. We encourage all those who are healthy and well to consider giving the gift of life.”

“We are grateful for blood donors and the vital role they play in our communities,” Linda Butler, MD, UNC REX Healthcare Chief Medical Officer and Vice President of Medical Affairs. “Your precious gift of blood is needed daily for surgeries, cancer patients, NICU babies and other patients.”

Free parking will be available for donors at the main entrance of the arena. Signage will direct donors to registration and screening areas. Appointments are strongly recommended in order to control social distancing and limit interaction. All donors will receive a $20 VISA gift card. Donors can make an appointment by visiting this link.

TBC ensures that all donors are healthy through wellness screenings prior to their donation and the organization is taking extra precautionary measures to ensure donation sites are clean and safe places to donate blood. In addition, TBC has an internal incident command team that monitors collection and inventory levels and meets to discuss and prepare for different scenarios regarding COVID-19. To contact TBC, please call 800-392-6551.

TBC emphasizes these facts about donating blood during the COVID-19 outbreak:

  • According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Center for Disease Control (CDC), there have been no reported or suspected cases of transfusion-transmitted COVID-19. Individuals are not at risk of contracting COVID-19 through the blood donation process or via a blood transfusion, since respiratory viruses are generally not known to be transmitted by donation or transfusion.
  • TBC follows appropriate infection control standards of donor rooms and mobile buses, which include sanitation of donor waiting rooms and donation chairs. TBC has increased the frequency of glove changing and decontamination of surfaces in centers and on blood mobiles.
  • The Blood Connection staff will complete a full health screening for all donors prior to donating blood. This includes a questionnaire (which includes travel questions), temperature check, and mini-physical.
  • America’s Blood Centers and the FDA have both stated that a blood drive is not considered a mass gathering or an event.
  • Blood centers are not healthcare providers and thus do not provide coronavirus tests. TBC will screen all donors to make sure they are healthy and eligible to donate.

About The Blood Connection

The Blood Connection has been committed to saving lives since 1962. Founded in Greenville, South Carolina, TBC is an independently managed, not-for-profit, community blood center that provides blood products to more than 70 hospitals within Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina.

Recognized by the U.S. Congress for its dedication to disaster preparedness and the community, TBC works diligently to collect blood from volunteer donors to meet the ever-increasing demand. By keeping collections local, TBC serves hundreds of thousands of patients a year in its communities. TBC is licensed and regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. For more information, visit thebloodconnection.org.


Allie Van Dyke
Media Coordinator, The Blood Connection


Allie Van Dyke
Media Coordinator, The Blood Connection