If You Have To Leave The House, Why Not Donate Blood?
Hospitals could face critical shortages as outbreak disrupts drives
By Margaret Nicklas,
4:50PM, Mon. Mar. 16, 2020
Central Texas hospitals could face blood shortages as early as next week if donations don’t ramp up this week, Nick Canedo, vice president of community engagement at We are Blood, told the Chronicle Monday, March 16.
Time is of the essence. Many previously scheduled blood drives have been canceled, Canedo said, because of the school and work-related disruptions being created in our area by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mobile donations represent about half of the blood the non-profit collects week to week to meet the community needs of local hospitals, Canedo said. “As the school districts close, as UT has extended spring break, more and more drives are being canceled daily,” he said. We Are Blood serves over 40 hospitals and medical facilities in Central Texas and has served the area under various names since 1951.
The center normally has 80-100 mobile drives per month, Canedo said. In the last two weeks, it has seen 20 cancellations, which could represent as much as 800 donations that will not be collected, he said.
The center is putting out an urgent plea to the public to request that individuals who are healthy and eligible come and donate now, either at one of the organization’s three donor centers or at a currently active mobile drive. The group runs two centers in Austin (on N. Lamar and W. Slaughter Lane.) and one in Round Rock on N. Mays. Appointments are suggested but walk-ins are also welcome. You can view scheduling options, including how to find mobile donations sites, here: https://weareblood.org/donate-blood/make-an-appointment/
For those concerned about social distancing and hygiene, Canedo provided some reassurance. Beds and interview rooms are sanitized after each donation and other parts of the facilities are cleaned hourly. Beyond the waiting area, which may have a few people waiting to donate, and donation beds, which are not close together, donors are in private rooms or with one health care worker who is drawing blood. Appointments are scheduled at the rate of two donors every 15 minutes at centers and every 20 minutes at mobile sites, Canedo said.
There is no evidence that COVID-19 can be transmitted through blood transfusion, but the FDA has suggested that “individuals refrain from donating blood at least 28 days after resolution of symptoms after a diagnosis of COVID-19 or 28 days after the date of departure from an outbreak area or the last possible close contact exposure to a person with COVID-19.”
We Are Blood serves 10 counties, and many of its mobile blood drives happen in outlying areas. “When those are just falling off last minute, we can’t replace them in real time. Nor are companies or other communities willing to jump in there with new drives, when everyone is very nervous about coronavirus, and more and more announcements are coming at the state and nationwide level,” he said.