Blood Suppliers Are Seeking Donors Amid Virus Outbreak
For healthy residents looking for a way to aid their communities during the ongoing coronavirus outbreak, donating blood remains a vital way to contribute.
The Community Blood Bank and the American Red Cross are working to ensure that lifesaving and life sustaining blood supplies are available to those who need them during this unprecedented social shutdown.
“We’ve never seen anything like this in the blood industry,” said Jaclyn Seymour, community relations specialist for the Community Blood Bank. “Whenever there is a national crisis, like 9-11, there is a huge response of people wanting to help. During 9-11, we had 400 blood donors here at our site in Erie (Pa.) alone. We saw a huge turnout after that of a massive scale of people wanting to help out.”
Red blood cells have a shelf life of 42 days, and donors are able to give blood every 56 days. These donations are of critical importance for a variety of medical patients, including premature babies, those suffering from cancer, as well as emergency room patients involved in accidents and trauma.
“We said this is a marathon not a sprint,” Seymour said. “We’re kind of wanting to encourage people to make appointments, and let’s keep that (consistency) up. You are eligible to donate every 56 days. It is kind of looking like you might donate now and then we need you again in 56 days. I think people want a way that they can help out during this time, and this is a way you can help out.”
Universal donors with the blood type 0-, as well as 0+ donors, are especially useful during this time. 0+ blood types account for approximately 39% of the population, Seymour said.
As a result of the coronavirus outbreak, the Community Blood Bank was forced to cancel 31 scheduled drives, at a cost of around 850 expected donors. As the exclusive blood supplier to Westfield Memorial Hospital and UPMC Chautauqua, that cancellation has had a significant impact on the blood supplies available to local doctors and their patients.
In response, an emergency drive was held Tuesday at UPMC Chautauqua on the mobile blood donation bus. Another emergency drive will be held on Friday from 1-5 p.m. in the parking lot of Westfield Memorial Hospital.
Healthy donors are encouraged to call and make an appointment at 450-0376, and can expect extra precautions in light of the coronavirus outbreak.
“We have like eight (donors) so far,” said Kathy Hastings, mobile drive coordinator, on Tuesday. “We are keeping them very contained. Only a few in the bus at a time. We do tell them all the precautions up front, everything that we are doing for them. They are coming in because they see the need and they are hearing it on TV and in the media, and they want to support this community because (the blood) stays right here.”
Blood drive organizers are making sure to limit the number of donors present in one area at once, often asking people to wait outside or in their cars before their appointments. Special precautions are also being taken to ensure that donation areas, supplies and staff are sanitized and safe.
“We have chairs spread out, we are taking temperatures at the door for staff member and volunteers and donors,” Seymour said. “To make sure anyone who enters our locations are feeling healthy and well. We are wiping everything down between every donor, sanitizing the chairs, we have our blood donations (drinks) in plastic baggies which are changed out during every donation.”
Seymour noted that blood collection drives are not considered mass gatherings, and that they always occur in controlled medical environments among healthy populations. These precautions are also being taken by the American Red Cross at emergency drives around the country.
“In our experience, the American public comes together to support those in need during times of shortage and that support is needed now more than ever during this unprecedented public health crisis,” said Chris Hrouda, president, Red Cross Biomedical Services, via news release. “Unfortunately, when people stop donating blood, it forces doctors to make hard choices about patient care, which is why we need those who are healthy and well to roll up a sleeve and give the gift of life.” More information on how to donate can be found at RedCrossBlood.org and by calling 1-800-RED-CROSS.
A list of blood donation opportunities available from the American Red Cross are as follows:
¯ Every Thursday, 12:30-5:30 p.m., ARC Donation Center, 325 4th Street, Jamestown
¯ Thursday: TriChurch, 41 E. Main Street, Brocton, 1- 6 p.m.
¯ Friday: Ashville Fire Dept Station 2, 5338 Stow Road, Ashville, 1-5 p.m.
¯ Saturday: Dunkin Donuts, 3929 Vineyard Dr., Fredonia/Dunkirk, 10-3 p.m.
¯ March 31, Forestville American Legion, 6 Cedar St., Forestville, 12:30-5 p.m.
¯ April 1, Stanley Hose Fire Co., 122 Park St., Sherman, 3-8 p.m.
¯ April 2, Cassadaga Fire Station 1, 22 Mill St., Cassadaga, noon-5 p.m.
¯ April 4, West Dunkirk Fire Dept, 4741 Willow Road, Dunkirk, 1-6 p.m.
¯ April 6, First Presbyterian Church, 300 Market St., Warren, Pa., 1-6 p.m.
¯ April 16, Clarendon Fire Dept., 17 N. Main St., Clarendon, Pa., noon-5 p.m.