COVID-19 impact on blood drives
Blood donations are plummeting from coast to coast and putting a wide range of patients at risk, according to a joint statement by the organizations that provide virtually all the civilian blood needs in the United States.
“Since the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, the blood community has experienced unprecedented fluctuations in both supply and the need for blood,” the American Association of Blood Banks, America’s Blood Centers and the American Red Cross said in statement.
“A variety of events — including wildfires in the western states, recent hurricanes and other storms — have led to additional disruptions to the collection of blood, compounding the impact of canceled blood drives at schools, businesses and community organizations due to remote work and closures.”
South Texas is experiencing the same critical shortages. The South Texas Blood & Tissue Center needs about 500 donations a day to keep up with requests from hospitals – but is averaging just 300 donations a day. Without a significant increase in blood donations, hospitals are at the point of making difficult choices on who they can treat with limited resources.
Much of the decline can be attributed to the cancellation of more than 1,000 community blood drives, and thousands of lost blood donations, this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Normally, 70% of donations in South Texas come from community drives.
As a result, the South Texas Blood & Tissue Center only is able to provide half the critically needed type O blood requested by hospitals.
Donors can call 210-731-5590, or visit SouthTexasBlood.org to make an appointment at one of the South Texas Blood & Tissue Center’s seven donor rooms or locate a blood drive.
Blood collections typically increase during the fall from high school and college drives, but fewer than half the usual school drives are scheduled through the end of the year.
In normal times, when donations decline, blood centers help each other with shortfalls. But centers today have no donations to share.
Blood donations are needed for a range of treatments, from cancer to trauma to childbirth, even during the pandemic. The impact of COVID-19 and the upcoming flu season could further compound challenges, the national statement said.
“Blood donors are needed now to help maintain the adequacy of the blood supply and to ensure that blood is available,” the statement said. “Blood donors are needed now
and will continue to be needed to ensure patients continue to have access to blood throughout the remainder of 2020.”
Community blood banks, including the South Texas Blood & Tissue Center, have put numerous protocols in place to keep donors safe, from mandatory masks to social distancing to appointment-only donations. All donations are tested for COVID-19 antibodies.
To make an appointment at a donor room or blood drive, donors can call 210-731-5590 or visit SouthTexasBlood.org