The Blood Connection asked, and the Upstate community responded in droves.
Just a few weeks ago, when the coronavirus pandemic was in its early stages, The Blood Connection saw a notable dip in blood collections. On March 8, the organization only collected 54 percent of what it needed to supply hospitals for that day.
People were being asked to stay home, blood drives were canceled and corporate donating was down due to people working from home. The result was a large deficit, and the staff knew they had to turn things around as quickly as possible.
A plea to the community led to incredible results. By March 19, collections exceeded the goal, with a 36% jump in donations from week to week. Between March 8 and March 20, the staff saw a 42% increase in the number of donors visiting mobiles and centers.
“Donors really stepped up and helped us navigate this,” says Allie Van Dyke, partnerships and media coordinator. “The community responded when we needed them to, but we need that response to continue.”
She says the people who gave in the past few weeks can’t return for two months, so new donors are very important to keep supply steady. Blood has a shelf life, with platelets used to help cancer patients only lasting five days and whole blood lasting 42 days. “We have to restock the shelves,” she says. “We have a responsibility to the community.”
In today’s socially distant world, the best way to help is to make an appointment at one of The Blood Connection’s five centers, which are being cleaned multiple times per day for every donor’s safety. Donors can go online at thebloodconnection.org and sign up for an appointment to donate in Greenville, Easley, Greenwood, Seneca or Spartanburg.
While mobile collections are still going on around the community, Van Dyke says making an appointment at a center is the best choice. “That’s where you find healthy people helping others,” she says. “If you are healthy, now is the time to give.”
It’s quick, simple and, as Van Dyke points out, safe. According to the FDA, individuals are not at risk of contracting COVID-19 through the blood donation process or via a blood transfusion, since respiratory viruses are generally not known to be transmitted by donation or transfusion.
While the coronavirus pandemic does not require extra blood at hospitals, it is important to maintain the supply for people with blood disorders, cancer or other issues requiring transfusions.
“If donors decide to stay home, that’s a big deal, because these hospitals are relying on us,” Van Dyke says.
Donations are needed to get through the summer, and blood drives around May will make a huge difference by shoring up supply for the upcoming months.
Van Dyke is confident that the Upstate community will continue to support this life-giving effort, just as they did last month when the situation looked dire and donors turned the situation around. “We’ve done well, but we have to be in this for the long haul, and we need the community to stay in it with us.”