UPDATED: March 29, 2020

There are many inaccuracies making their rounds on social media/online regarding blood donation and COVID-19. Stay informed by staying up to date on information released from credible sources ONLY. Links to credible resources are included within this page.

Important Updates

  1. ConnectLife has moved to appointment only. We are committed to keeping our staff and donors safe, and we are appropriately space out all donors at all drives and centers. We ask that you book appointments into the month of April.
  2. ConnectLife's Eastern Hills Blood Donation Center is moving to ConnectLife headquarters - effective immediately. All donors that have made appointments at Eastern Hills please report to 4444 Bryant and Stratton Way, Williamsville, NY 14221. For reference, ConnectLife headquarters is only 1.4 miles or 6 minutes from Eastern Hills.
  3. Have questions on safety, disinfecting, etc.? Read our FAQs
  4. Watch a video of the blood donation process here.

What You Need to Know

Blood donors are needed in WNY, now more than ever. Please know that attending a blood drive to donate blood is not a mass gathering or social event. Social distancing does not exclude you from donating blood.

If you are healthy and eligible, we strongly encourage you to donate in order to maintain an available blood supply for our local hospitals. To make an appointment to donate blood, visit www.ConnectLifeGiveBlood.org or call 716.529.4270.

As of March 17, 2020 - Across the United States, we have seen more than 4,000 blood drives canceled, resulting in some 130,000 fewer blood donations due to coronavirus concerns.

There is no substitute for blood. About 1 out of every 7 people that enter a hospital will need blood. Since ConnectLife is a community blood bank, your blood donation will save the life of that ONE PERSON, who is part of our community and who most definitely means something to someone right here in Western New York.

The Need for Blood Donors Locally, in Western New York

ConnectLife, WNY’s only organ, eye, tissue, and community blood center, is seeing a decline in local blood donation due to fear of the Coronavirus (COVID-19), and concerns are growing about blood supply. Warnings that the public should stay home and avoid crowds is leading to cancelled appointments and blood drives.

We are urging all eligible donors to make and keep their appointments to donate, and encouraging all blood drive sponsors to continue hosting scheduled drives.

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.

Read ConnectLife's official press release here.

Credible Sources and Resources

“We need people to start turning out in force to give blood.” says Peter Marks, M.D., Ph.D., director of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research.

“We need people to prevent the blood supply from getting depleted. We need it not to get to the point that surgeries are having to get canceled. That’s something we absolutely do not want to have happen. To ensure an adequate blood supply we need people to come out and donate blood,” say Dr. Marks. Read more reponses here - FDA Urging People to Donate Blood as Coronavirus Fears Intensify

Frequently Asked Questions (updated March 24, 2020)

Is it safe to donate blood during this time?

  • ConnectLife values the health and safety of all donors, staff, volunteers, and partners. We maintain policies requiring that all facilities and equipment undergo frequent cleaning and disinfection as part of an ongoing infection control program.
  • Our staff use universal precautions to help prevent the risk of spreading infectious agents and our policies require clinical staff suffering from an infectious condition to notify their supervisors.
  • 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?

  • A shortage of  blood for patients is a greater risk to their safety.
  • 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.
  • Respiratory viruses are not known to be transmitted by blood transfusion.  According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), there have been no reported or suspected cases of transfusion-transmitted Coronavirus to date.

Who is eligible to donate?

  • Blood donors must be healthy and feeling well 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 assure they have a normal temperature.
  • We ask anyone who does not feel healthy to not donate blood that day.

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 Coronavirus. 
  • No enhancements have been added to our routine blood donor screening measures.

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

  • We are not testing donors for COVID-19. The FDA has not recommended this practice. 

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.

Safety of blood supplies

Does ConnectLife test blood supplies for COVID-19?

  • 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.

Cleaning/disinfection

What are you doing to ensure equipment and facilities are clean and safe for donation?

  • ConnectLife values the health and safety of all donors, staff, volunteers, and partners. We maintain policies requiring that all facilities and equipment undergo frequent cleaning and disinfection as part of an ongoing infection control program.
  • Our staff is trained in universal precautions to help prevent the risk of spreading infectious agents and our policies require clinical staff suffering from an infectious condition to notify their supervisors.
  • 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.

Eligibility Questions

I got a tattoo less than 12 months ago, can I donate blood?

  • Unfortunately there is still a 12-month deferral for tattoos in NYS. ConnectLife does not govern this. We recognize and appreciate the willingness/desire to donate from everyone during times like these. Right now the rules and regulations we have to follow have not changed, but if they do, we will communicate them as soon as possible.

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.