UPDATED: May, 19 2021

Important Updates

  1. As a designated healthcare facility, masks must continue to be worn at all ConnectLife locations and blood drives regardless of vaccination status. Thank you for continuing to support the safety and health of our staff, donors and visitors.
  2. There is no wait time to donate blood after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, Pfizer, Moderna, or Janssen/Johnson & Johnson.
  3. ConnectLife will begin accepting walk-ins on a limited basis. Appointments are encouraged. This allows us to space out all blood donors at all blood drives, blood centers, and the ConnectLife bus to practice social distancing.
  4. ConnectLife's Eastern Hills Blood Donation Center is moving to ConnectLife headquarters - effective immediately. 
  5. Before you come in to donate or consider making an appointment please read through our FAQs on blood donation safety, disinfecting of our facilities, wearing your mask when donating, NYS COVID-19 guidelines, etc. (Scroll down for FAQs)

What You Need to Know

Did you know that all the blood collected at beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic has already been sent to our local hospitals? ConnectLife is looking to our community for help again. Western New York patients and hospitals need blood donors continuously. The need is quickly increasing.

ALL blood types are needed right now in Western New York.

Be a part of saving lives in this COVID-19 crisis. Healthy and eligible donors can book an appointment online at ConnectLifeGiveBlood.org OR call us 716-529-4270.

The Need for Blood Donors Locally, in Western New York

Western New Yorkers rely on ConnectLife blood donors to stock the shelves with safe blood products for local patients in need. ConnectLife is the primary supplier of blood products to Oishei Children’s Hospital, Buffalo General Medical Center, Millard Fillmore Suburban Hospital, Degraff Memorial Hospital, ECMC, Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center, Eastern Niagara Hospital, Wyoming County Community Health System, Olean General Hospital, Brooks-TLC Health System in Dunkirk and Bradford Regional Medical Center.

Frequently Asked Questions (updated MAY 19, 2021)

Eligibility Questions

New as of 5.18.21: Do I still need to wear a mask at a ConnectLife location or blood drive?
As a designated healthcare facility, masks must continue to be worn at all ConnectLife locations and blood drives regardless of vaccination status.

Is there a deferral period after I receive the COVID vaccine?

  • There is no deferral for receipt of the vaccines from Pfizer, Moderna, or Janssen/Johnson & Johnson. 
  • Donors need to be symptom free and feeling well. 
  • Donors should know which vaccine they received or they can bring their vaccination card to ensure it is one mentioned in the bullet above.
  • If a donor participated in a trial, we can accept participants from the trial when the vaccine goes to the FDA for licensure or 12 months after the last dose.

What’s the vaccination status of your staff members?

  • While COVID vaccines are becoming more available, ConnectLife, like most other companies, has not yet decided on an overall vaccination policy. ConnectLife remains committed to the safety of our staff, donors, volunteers, and the hospitals we serve. We continue to follow all FDA and CDC recommended guidelines associated with COVID-19, including masks, social distancing, and rigorous safety and sterilization procedures.

Can I donate if I had COVID/tested positive for COVID or have been in contact with someone who tested positive for COVID?

  • Generally, blood donors must be healthy, feeling well, and free of respiratory illness symptoms to be eligible to donate. *Note: we do not require that absence of taste/smell be resolved before donor can be asked if they are feeling healthy and well
  • We ask anyone who does not feel healthy and well to wait until they have fully recovered to donate blood.
  • Donors should continue to follow all NYS protocols for exposure to someone who has tested positive or if they have tested positive for COVID-19.

I just donated about three weeks ago. I'd like to donate again. Will the 56 day waiting period be waived to help replenish the supply?

  • No, you must wait 56 days to donate whole blood again. The safety of our donors are our top priority even in these challenging times.

For more Donor Eligibility Questions - read our full resource here.

Is it safe to donate blood during this time? What are you doing to ensure equipment and facilities are clean and safe for donation?

  • Respiratory viruses in general, are not known to be transmitted by blood transfusion, and according to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), there have been no reported or suspected cases of transfusion- transmitted COVID-19 to-date.
  • ConnectLife values the health and safety of all donors, staff, volunteers, and partners. Measures are in place, and will continue, to ensure safety:
  1. Donors who are not feeling well, are not to enter the donation center or drive location.
  2. We are checking staff’s health at the start of each shift.
  3. Everyone must wear a mask, including donors and staff. If needed, we will provide one.
  4. We maintain policies requiring that all facilities and equipment undergo frequent cleaning and disinfection as part of an ongoing infection control program. Additionally, we are performing extra cleaning and sanitizing of all beds, equipment, and surfaces after each donor.
  • We are adhering to appropriate social distancing during the donation visit:
  1. Fixed sites, inside mobile drives: we’re requiring appointments, and all donor wait chairs, screens, beds and refreshment chairs are 6 feet apart.
  2. On our buses: we’re requiring appointments and we have donors wait in their vehicles until notified to enter the bus.
  • We continue to monitor the CDC, local and state health departments to ensure appropriate local protocols and guidelines, such as updated/additional guidance for cleaning and disinfection, are followed.

So, we don’t need to worry about the blood supply at this time?

  • COVID-19 does not pose any known intrinsic risk to the safety of the blood supply, but there is risk to the availability of blood for patients in need because of an increase in cancelled donation appointments and blood drives.
  • It is imperative that healthy individuals continue to donate blood so that an adequate blood supply can be maintained for our local hospitals. We strongly encourage all healthy donors and sponsors of blood drives to schedule appointments and keep commitments to donate blood.
  • Blood has a short shelf life and must be continually replenished. It is the blood already on the shelves that saves lives.

Who is eligible to donate?

Generally, blood donors must be healthy, feeling well, and free of respiratory illness symptoms to be eligible to donate.

Is ConnectLife screening donors for COVID-19?

  • Routine blood donor screening measures that are already in place prevent individuals with clinical respiratory infections from donating blood.
  • All donors are screened to ensure they are feeling well. Each donor goes through a mini physical to check that they are feeling healthy and well, they have a normal temperature, and are free of respiratory symptoms, such as cough and shortness of breath.
  • We ask anyone who does not feel healthy and well to wait until they have fully recovered to donate blood.

Are there travel restrictions related to COVID-19 that affect eligibility for blood donation?

  • At this time there are no recommendations from the FDA, CDC, NYSDOH or others to defer blood donors for travel to any specific area(s) related to COVID-19.
  • We continue to use routine blood donor screening measures that are already in place. Each donor goes through a mini physical to check that they are feeling healthy and well, they have a normal temperature, and are free of respiratory symptoms, such as cough and shortness of breath.

I thought I can’t donate blood because we’re supposed to avoid mass gatherings or social events.

Blood donation is not a mass gathering or social event. Individuals who are healthy and eligible to donate are strongly encouraged to do so in order to maintain an available blood supply. 

Can I donate now under the new FDA guidelines?

  • We are happy to hear that the FDA has updated their guidance on blood donor deferral criteria and are happy to welcome new donors and previous donors back.
  • We have made our internal updates to our processes and systems and are now able to welcome more donors under the new guidelines. Learn more here.

Safety of Blood Supplies

Does ConnectLife test blood supplies for COVID-19?

  • At this time, FDA does not recommend using laboratory tests to screen blood donors with no symptoms. Based on available information, detection of COVID-19 in blood samples has only been seen in severely ill patients, not in asymptomatic individuals.
  • We have been monitoring the COVID-19 situation and will continue to on a daily basis both with our internal medical team as well as we are routinely in contact with national blood related organizations we work with such as America’s Blood Centers (ABC) and American Association of Blood Banks (AABB).
  • COVID-19 is a coronavirus as was SARS and MERS, which occurred previously. Neither have ever resulted in a case of transfusion transmitted disease and scientifically it is not believed it is different with COVID- 19. Person to person spread occurs mainly via respiratory droplets that people sneeze, cough, or exhale.

Can COVID-19 be transmitted by transfusion?

According to the FDA, there have been no reported or suspected cases of transfusion-transmitted COVID-19 to date. As previously with SARS and MERS, COVID-19 poses no known risk to the safety of the nation’s blood supply and does not pose any known risk to patients receiving blood transfusions.

Convalescent Plasma

Is ConnectLife collecting convalescent plasma?

  • Some blood centers may be collecting and distributing convalescent plasma from individuals who have recovered from COVID-19.
  • UPDATED as of 11.13.20 Roswell Park is collecting convalescent plasma again as of 11.13.20. Please have interested donors contact Roswell Park directly at (716) 845-1483.

COVID-19 Testing

Does ConnectLife preform COVID-19 antibody or virus/diagnostic testing?

No, ConnectLife is not a COVID-19 antibody or virus testing facility.

Can I donate blood to be tested for COVID-19?

  • Blood donation should not be used to get tested for COVID-19. We are not testing for COVID-19 directly, but do screen all donors to make sure they are healthy and eligible to donate.
  • At this time, FDA does not recommend using laboratory tests to screen blood donors with no symptoms. Based on available information, detection of COVID-19 in blood samples has only been seen in severely ill patients, not in asymptomatic individuals.
  • All donors are screened to ensure they are feeling well. Individuals should not donate blood if they are feeling ill. Each donor goes through a mini physical to check that they are feeling healthy and well, have a normal temperature, and are free of respiratory symptoms, such as cough and shortness of breath. 

Vaccine-Related Questions

NEW Is there a deferral period after I receive the COVID vaccine?

There is no deferral for recipients of the vaccines from Pfizer, Moderna, or Janssen/Johnson & Johnson. Donors need to be symptom free and feeling well.

Donors should know which vaccine they received or they can bring their vaccination card to ensure it is one mentioned in the bullet above.

If a donor participated in a trial, we can accept participants from the trial when the vaccine goes to the FDA for licensure or 12 months after the last dose (whichever comes first)

How long after donating convalescent plasma do I need to wait to donate with us?

In general, donors need to wait two weeks after donating. 

How long after donating each donation type do I need to wait to donate convalescent plasma again?

Our normal deferral periods apply for each donation type: 56 days if donated whole blood, 112 days for DR, 2 weeks for platelets. 

NEW What’s the vaccination status of your staff members?

While COVID vaccines are becoming more available, ConnectLife, like most other companies, has not yet decided on an overall vaccination policy. ConnectLife remains committed to the safety of our staff, donors, volunteers, and the hospitals we serve. We continue to follow all FDA and CDC recommended guidelines associated with COVID-19, including masks, social distancing, and rigorous safety and sterilization procedures. 

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