Mayor challenges community to save lives with a blood donation

San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg urged South Texans to give blood during his own donation Monday afternoon. 

“We’re challenging everyone in the community to give blood as soon as they can,” he said while giving at the South Texas Blood & Tissue Center Donor Pavilion. “With the holidays, and people out of school or not at work, it’s a critical period for donations.” 

The last two weeks of the year typically are the slowest of the year for blood donations, and the community blood center is projecting a decline of 30% from previous years because of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

At the same time, there is a bigger demand for blood, as trauma cases and accidents tend to increase during the holidays. Hospitals also are scheduling surgeries that had been postponed earlier this year because of blood shortages and the pandemic. 

“It’s just about an hour out of your day, and you can save somebody’s life,” Nirenberg said. 

Elizabeth Waltman, Chief Operating Officer of the South Teas Blood & Tissue Center, said the center needs to build a seven-day supply of blood to make sure enough is available for every patient. 

“You never know when someone will need blood, maybe someone you know,” she said. 

The blood supply has been rebounding to adequate levels in recent weeks, Waltman said, but there is concern that it will drop again over the holidays, when there are fewer blood drives scheduled and donors are out. 

There is also a lingering shortage of type O blood. O-negative blood can be given to any patient in an emergency, and O-positive is the most common type in South Texas. 

To schedule a donation at one of six local donor rooms or at a community drive, visit SouthTexasBlood.org or call 210-731-5590. Donations are by appointment only. 

Who gets transfusions?

Dramatic scenes from movies and TV lead a lot of people to believe that most blood transfusions go to people who are seriously injured in accidents.

In fact, just 2% of donated blood in this country goes to patients with traumatic injuries, according to statistics compiled by the Alliance for Community Transfusion Services.

The highest percentage of transfusions in the United States actually go to patients battling cancer and related blood conditions. Here’s the breakdown:

  • Cancer and blood disease treatments: 34%
  • Anemia treatment: 19%
  • Surgery patients: 18%
  • Treatments for heart, liver and kidney disorders: 13%
  • Orthopedic patients: 10%
  • Obstetrics: 4%
  • Trauma and accidents: 2%

Patients with cancer – and especially blood cancers like leukemia and lymphoma – often need additional blood because their bodies often cannot produce enough blood cells on their own.

People with anemia do not have enough healthy red blood cells, so they need regular transfusions. And even though the amount of blood required for surgeries and related treatments has been reduced dramatically in recent years, blood loss still occurs.

Difficulties with childbirth lead some women to need transfusions as well.

The alliance is made up of 12 independent blood centers in Texas (including the South Texas Blood & Tissue Center), Oklahoma, Louisiana, Missouri, Florida, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and California. Members distribute more than 1.5 million transfusions to more than 750 hospitals every year.

To do your part for all your neighbors who need blood – for whatever reason – visit SouthTexasBlood.org, or call 210-731-5590 to make an appointment today.