Calling All Blood Donors
With blood donors few and far between for now, OneBlood is sending out the call to alleviate that as soon as possible.
“We’re looking for all blood types, and there’s an increased demand for O-negative and O-positive blood as well,” said Susan Forbes at OneBlood – a non-profit, blood center serving Florida, North Carolina and much of the Southeastern United States.
Forbes adds that blood is an ongoing need in the community, and they’d like to see people make donating it a habit.
“By doing that, you are helping ensure a ready blood supply for the community at all times,” Forbes said. “It’s about having that sustained donor response that really is key to ensuring a ready blood supply.”
As with most other walks of life, the coronavirus pandemic has hit blood collection hard. Donors are coming forward, says Forbes, but demand is increasing, especially heading into the summer months.
“It’s always a more difficult time for blood donations, just because people are out of school or are traveling, and so things change,” said Forbes. “And now, with the vaccine becoming more available, people are getting vaccinated and starting to travel more. So we need people to keep blood donation as one of the priorities in their lives.”
COVID-19, says Forbes, has disrupted OneBlood’s operations indefinitely. More than a year into the pandemic, they’re still not able to hold blood drives at many of the locations they’ve used in the past – including high schools, colleges and universities.
“Those right there account for about 20 percent of the blood supply; and we haven’t been able to go back to many of those locations for more than a year now, because of the distance-learning that’s been going on,” Forbes said. “And some of the high schools and colleges just aren’t ready to have blood drives yet and have additional things like that taking place on their campuses.”
The search has been underway for additional places to hold drives – and that’s leading to some creativity over where to park the big, red OneBlood bus.
“Many homeowners associations have stepped forward and wanted to have blood drives right there in their own communities,” said Forbes. “People were able to walk out of their home, and go over to their park at their subdivision and donate. So it doesn’t get more convenient than that.”
Some of the businesses that have participated in blood drives in the past – and continue to do so, says Forbes, are seeing much lower participation rates these days.
“Because some of their employees are still working from home; so the homeowners associations’ blood drives have really proven to be very successful,” Forbes said.
Eligible donors must be at least 16 years of age, and weigh at least 110 pounds.
“Then you’ll fill out a set of questions that are required by the FDA for all blood donors; and you pass the screening then it’s off to donating,” said OneBlood’s Susan Forbes. “Donation for whole blood only takes about 10 min. once you’re in the chair. And we do encourage people who are eligible to donate platelets to consider doing that as well.”
In platelet donation, about a quarter-pint of the donor’s blood is drawn and passed through a cell-separating machine. After the platelets are segregated, the remaining blood is returned to the donor. More information on donating blood, and setting up an appointment, is available at www.oneblood.org.