Blood donations needed during COVID-19 pandemic

As venues closed to the public, bloodmobile lost some of its scheduled drives

The bloodmobile sits in a parking lot. Blood donations are needed during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Every week, the Community Blood Bank based in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, needs 500 units of blood to meet the demands of hospitals in parts of South Dakota, Minnesota and Iowa, including many Sanford Health hospitals.

But because of the COVID-19 pandemic, there is an even greater need for blood, as the community blood bank is experiencing its “lowest blood supply levels in over 20 years,” according to a press release.

Currently, local blood supplies are critically low with an overall decrease in supplies between 40-50%.

Normally blood drives get hosted at businesses, churches or other community spaces. Closures at some of these places leave the blood bank scrambling for space and donors.

Donate blood near you: Find a blood drive in Fargo, Bismarck, Bemidji or Sioux Falls.

“If you have a business or a church that would host a pop-up blood drive, we would show up with the bloodmobile and get the message out through texts and Facebook posts, and things like that, to get people in the door,” said donor recruitment representative Rita Nelson.

35 minutes = 3 lives

This means, more than ever, blood donations are needed. When you donate blood, you save lives.

“If you are feeling well and healthy, come out and save lives. Donating blood is going to take about 35 minutes of your day, and within the 35 minutes, you’ve helped save the lives of three different patients,” Nelson said.

Donations of all blood types are always needed. However, there’s currently a crucial need for O positive, O negative and A negative, according to Nelson.

And a long-term shortage could eventually lead to postponed or canceled surgeries, she said. Lack of blood donations also could make it more difficult to treat patients who have critical needs.

‘No risk in donating blood’

Nelson says despite the severity of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s safe to donate blood.

“There is no risk in donating blood,” she said. “Donating blood is completely safe if you are healthy and well.”

But if you’re not, stay home.

“If you have a sore throat, colds, or your nose is stuffy, we want you to stay away for right now. When you’re feeling better in a couple weeks, come down and donate, because there is a need every day,” Nelson said.

The donor room at the Sanford USD Medical Center lobby in Sioux Falls also is open, but donors must call ahead to make an appointment to donate blood. Call (605) 333-5253 or (605) 333-5254. Hours are 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday.

This story was originally published March 20, 2020. It was last updated Oct. 18, 2020, with current blood bank information.

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Posted In Community, Coronavirus, Emergency Medicine

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