With the county under shelter-in-home rules due to coronavirus precautions, blood supplies are not on everyone’s mind, but they are in danger of severe shortages. Blood drives at schools, churches, community groups, and religious institutions, which represent more than 60% of the nation’s blood supply, have been all but cancelled.
Vitalant, formerly United Blood Services, is urging groups to continue organizing blood drives and individuals to continue donating blood, unless local public health officials specifically direct otherwise.
“The coronavirus has highly impacted our ability to collect the blood that we need for this community,” said Senior Manager of Donor Recruitment Mona Kleman. “We’ve had multiple cancellations and a lot of people are staying home and are afraid or uncomfortable to come out to donate. Our input of donors has dropped tremendously in the last week and a half. We expect that to continue for, at the very least, the next two weeks. It’s been a really challenging time.”
Donations from O-negative donors, the universal blood type, are especially important. The current O-negative blood supply sits at an approximate two-day supply, which is half of the ideal quantity needed to support patient needs. Additionally, platelet donations, which have a shelf life of only five days, are always in high demand. However, donors of all types are needed.
Donor blood is not needed to treat coronavirus patients, but transfusions are still needed for serious injuries (such as in a car crash) surgeries, childbirth, anemia, blood disorders, cancer treatments and more.
With traditional business or community driven blood drives being canceled, blood supplies are taking another hit because people are fearful about being around others at this time. Kleman assures that Vitalant is adhering to shelter-at-home guidelines.
“Blood donation centers and the blood mobile buses are extremely safe and clean—probably one of the safest places you can go right now,” she said. “Everything’s constantly wiped down, everybody’s gloved up. We take a lot of precautions.”
Precautions include spacing donors out in line and even in the chairs inside the bloodmobile. All potential donors have their temperature taken first are given a “mini physical” and are asked a list of questions that now inquire about recent travel to high risk areas. People are asked to self-differ if they have been exposed in any way to anybody that’s at risk at all for the coronavirus.
Dignity Health Hospitals, which include Arroyo Grande Community Hospital, French Hospital Medical Center, and Marian Regional Medical Center have partnered with Vitalant, to encourage people to donate.
The process takes only 45 minutes but can save up to three lives. Drive are scheduled for each hospital on the following dates:
Marian Regional Medical Center
– March 30 from 9 a.m. – 2 p.m.
French Hospital Medical Center
– March 31 from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Arroyo Grande Community Hospital
– April 1 from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
March donors will receive a $10 Amazon gift card and April donors will get a blood donor t-shirt as a thank you for their help.
Community members wishing to donate are urged to sign up at www.blood4life.org.