The COVID-19 pandemic curtailed blood drives across the Midlands, but the need for lifesaving donations remains critical, according to Kristen Boyle, a donor recruitment representative for the American Red Cross. Boyle was guest speaker at Capital Rotary’s biweekly meeting via Zoom on July 1.
Closed colleges and businesses shrank student and employee donor pools in the spring, Boyle noted, plus a number of churches and civic groups (including the Rotary club) cancelled planned drives. Meanwhile, demand is up as much as 30 per cent while hospitals are beginning to reschedule elective surgeries.
The Red Cross has safety steps in place, Boyle said, including mandatory face masks, temperature checks, gloves, rigorous sanitizing and social distancing at donor sites. Blood is now being tested for coronavirus antibodies; results are anticipated in 7 to 10 days.
A positive test means the donor has previous virus exposure, but “that doesn’t mean we can’t use the blood,” Boyle explained. “COVID-19, or any respiratory illness, isn’t transfused through blood donations. Having antibodies means you can apply to the convalescent plasma program and potentially help a patient who’s battling a severe case of COVID.”
Since the country has a blood need every two seconds – and every donation can help save up to three lives – Boyle declared: “Giving blood is an essential service.”