Editor’s Note: A previous version of this misstated the number of donations and has been corrected to 1,200.
AUSTIN (KXAN) — U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams didn’t mince words when he spoke at a White House press conference on Thursday.
“Social distancing does not have to mean social disengagement,” Adams said, encouraging Americans to donate blood during the coronavirus outbreak. “Blood centers are open now and in need of your donation.”
A day after Adam’s message, KXAN met with We Are Blood‘s Vice President of Community Engagement Nick Canedo at their North Lamar Boulevard location. He wants to reiterate to Central Texas that their collection centers are open and in dire need.
Over the past few weeks, we’ve experienced 30 blood drive cancellations representing 1,200 blood donations we were anticipating to collect to ensure patients in our area receive blood transfusions. Every one of those donations needs to be made up and right now we’re calling in the community to come in and donate.Canedo
That’s a quarter of what they hoped to collect in a single month.
“That’s a huge gap in our inventory to make up right now,” Canedo said. “Mobile blood drives are where we collect half of blood donations that we need to supply to our community, so as they’re canceled, we need to make up the difference.”
A difference with a big impact if not supplied.
Even though the center sees a steady stream of folks filter in, what they’re concerned about is “maintaining that motivation over the coming weeks as increased measures to encourage social distancing are being passed at the city, state and national level.”
‘Safe and critical to donate blood now’
The Surgeon General deemed blood donations as safe, and We Are Blood agrees.
“We Are Blood is open for business in taking increased cleaning and safety measures to ensure that our donors and staff are safe. We fit in the exemption for ‘critical services,’ which is why that we are open and continuing to collect blood,” Canedo said.
Collecting blood in the current social environment comes with increased safety measures.
“We’ve increased cleaning procedures, including wiping down our donor centers hourly, cleaning interview booths and our donor beds after every donor, and also asking each donor who enters our centers or mobile drive to use hand sanitizer before they start the registration process,” Canedo said.
The organization also asks donors to schedule their appointments ahead of time to “control donor traffic a little better,” Canedo said. Walk-ins are not available. If you would like to schedule an appointment, visit their website. You can also book a mobile blood drive. We Are Blood is focusing on areas like Cedar Park, Round Rock, Buda and Kyle.
We Are Blood is concerned the blood supply might dip to a critical level. Hospitals in their service area would take a hit.
“Every single donation can go to save three different lives,” Canedo said. “One out of seven patients who enter a hospital needs a blood transfusion. They are need daily for accident victims, cancer patients, mothers and newborns. People often think about blood donations in response to a national disaster or following a mass casualty shooting but the need is there every single day.”