UPDATED: May 20, 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 will now begin accepting walk-ins on a limited basis although appointments are encouraged. This allows us to space out all donors at all blood drives, blood centers, and the ConnectLife bus to practice social distancing.
  2. ConnectLife's Eastern Hills Blood Donation Center is moving to ConnectLife headquarters - effective immediately. All donors that have made appointments at our Eastern Hills location please report to 4444 Bryant and Stratton Way, Williamsville, NY 14221. 
  3. 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, etc. (Scroll down for FAQs) 
  4. NEW 5/19: As WNY reopens local blood supply is once again threatened.

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? As Western New York reopens again, 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.

Read our latest press release here.

Credible Sources and Resources

Frequently Asked Questions (updated April 20, 2020)

Is it safe to donate blood during this time?

  • 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 transfusiontransmitted Coronavirus to date.
  • 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?

  • 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 Coronavirus.
  • 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. 

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.  

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

NEW 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 looking forward to welcoming new donors and previous donors back.
  • While we wish we could start today, we do need to make our internal updates first. We will be working internally to update our processes and systems in order to welcome more donors ASAP.
  • We will answer eligibility questions about the new guidelines and schedule appointments when we have internal updates in place. We are currently taking contact information and we will get back to you as soon as we can. 

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 COVID19. 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 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 are communicating to all donors that they should not come to donate if they are not feeling healthy and well. If they are not feeling well, we are telling them they will need to reschedule their appointment.
  • We have signs at the doors and entrance to the drives that tell donors to stop and do not enter if they are not feeling well.
  • We are checking staff’s health at the start of each shift.
  • NEW The CDC has updated their COVID guidelines to recommend that all individuals wear some type of fabric covering over their nose and mouth. In light of this recent update, our staff is wearing masks starting 4/7/20. 
  • NEW We are asking all blood donors to wear a mask when presenting to donate to respect others and our staff and to keep everyone safe. If you do not have a mask, a disposable one will be provided to you during your donation.
  • We are adhering to social distancing –  
    Fixed sites, inside mobile drives: We’re requiring appointments, and all donor wait chairs, screens, beds and refreshment chairs are 6 feet apart. On our buses: We’re requiring appointments and we have donors wait in their vehicles until notified to enter the bus.
  • We are performing additional cleaning and sanitizing of all beds, equipment, surfaces after each donor.
  • 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.
NEW - Is ConnectLife collecting convalescent plasma? 
  • Some blood centers may be collecting and distributing convalescent plasma from individuals who have recovered from COVID-19. 
    • ConnectLife is not a collection facility for convalescent plasma at this time.
    • Interested donors contact Roswell Park directly at (716) 845-1483.

Eligibility Questions

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.