Blood donors still needed
In times of uncertainty and fear, the world looks toward the helpers — the people trying to make everything even just a little bit better.
With many folks stuck working from home, practicing social distancing to slow the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus, some may be wondering of ways they can make all of this even just a little bit better.
LifeServe Blood Center, 118 S. 25th St., has an answer for that question.
“Blood donation only takes about an hour and in that hour, you can save three local lives, which is hard to do in an hour of any other kind of volunteering to actually save lives,” said Claire DeRoin, community relations coordinator for LifeServe Blood Center.
Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, LifeServe, as well as other blood centers across the country, have had to cancel many of its mobile blood drives, which make up the majority of the local blood supplies.
“The blood supply statewide is critical,” said Alyssa Stanek, senior marketing and communications specialist for UnityPoint Health — Fort Dodge. “We encourage healthy members of the community to consider donating blood and blood plasma.”
Even though LifeServe has parked its blood-mobiles and canceled blood drives that were to be hosted by schools and businesses, its facilities are still open for blood donation appointments.
Donors need to be at least 16 years old, weigh at least 120 pounds and be in general good health.
“That’s very important during this time of the year and during this pandemic,” DeRoin said.
LifeServe has added additional screening questions and travel deferrals during this time.
“If you have been out of the country in the past 14 days, you will be asked to wait 28 days before you donate, but you can book an appointment for after that time,” she said.
And if a donor believes they have been exposed to the virus, they are also asked to defer for 28 days as well.
For donors who have recovered from the COVID-19 virus and have received the “all clear” from their physician, they are asked to call their blood donation center to receive instructions on when they will be eligible to donate.
During this time, LifeServe is asking any healthy and eligible donors to make appointments to donate, because keeping a steady blood supply is crucial for communities.
“Unfortunately, the need for blood is not something we can schedule around our donations,” DeRoin said. “There will always be traumas happening.”
She noted that a lot of patients who need blood are groups that aren’t necessarily obvious, like premature infants, mothers post-delivery, cancer patients, organ transplant patients.
“People battling all sorts of diseases and conditions can use transfusions as part of their regular treatment,” DeRoin explained. “These are things you can’t schedule and you can’t really put off, so it’s vital that we have a really strong blood supply, not just now, but any regular day too, pandemic or no.”
LifeServe Blood Centers are still following CDC social distancing recommendations and are keeping its centers open for extended hours so it can spread its appointments apart to leave more time to clean and disinfect all the surfaces the donors come in contact with. The centers are not accepting walk-ins right now.
“We’re doing what we can to make sure the blood supply keeps steady, we have a steady stream of donors donating to that and we’re keeping them safe while doing it,” DeRoin said.
The centers have received an “overwhelming outpouring of support from communities” in the past few weeks, DeRoin said, and many centers have all their appointments booked through the end of March. However, she said, donors will be needed throughout this pandemic outbreak and she encourages healthy donors to make appointments whenever they can.
“Don’t be frustrated if you can’t donate this week or next week.” She said. “We will absolutely need your donation through April and May.”
For more information about blood donation, eligibility or to schedule an appointment, visit www.lifeservebloodcenter.org, or call 800-287-4903.