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Blood supply drops to half of what is needed as blood drives at schools and colleges are canceled

The blood supply in South Texas has reached critically low levels, declining to around half of what is needed to adequately serve patients throughout the region.

The South Texas Blood & Tissue Center, a subsidiary of San Antonio-based non-profit BioBridge Global, urgently needs 500 donations per day through Monday to re-build the supply.

The shortfall comes at a time when collections normally are rising, the start of the new school year. But because of the coronavirus pandemic, universities are not hosting blood drives and there is only one high school drive scheduled during September.

There are only 60 blood drives scheduled this month, compared to 200 in September of last year, as businesses and other organizations also have canceled drives because of the pandemic.

In a typical year, school-related drives provide up to a quarter of all donations at the community blood center.

The South Texas Blood & Tissue Center is asking the community to make an appointment to give at one of its seven donor rooms across South Texas, or a nearby blood drive. Potential donors can find out more and make an appointment at SouthTexasBlood.org.

To help with the ongoing need, Santikos Entertainment is partnering with the center for an emergency blood drive Friday at the Casa Blanca Movie Theater, 11210 Alamo Ranch Parkway from 10 a.m.- 6 p.m. As a thank-you, all donors at the theater will receive a movie ticket and a voucher for a free Whataburger burger. Donors will need to make an appointment online here or by calling 210-731-5590.

Blood donations are needed for a range of treatments, from cancer to trauma to childbirth, even during the COVID-19 pandemic. The community blood bank has put numerous protocols in place to keep donors safe, from mandatory masks to social distancing. All blood donations also are tested for COVID-19 antibodies.