Want to help? Donate blood

By: 
Alexis Barker

Alexis Barker

NLJ News Editor

 

If you find yourself asking what can you do to lessen the stress on health care providers across the country during the battle with COVID-19, donating blood could be the simple answer. 

On April 6, Vitalant, formerly known as United Blood Services, will be making its way to Newcastle at the Newcastle Lodge and Convention Center for a blood drive, and donor recruitment representative Tori Robbins says that donating during these uncertain times is critical. 

“If we don’t have people donating blood throughout this, the next pandemic is a blood shortage and people are going to die because they can’t get the blood that they need,” Robbins said. “That is the concern we have right now and any time when people are not regularly donating.”

Patients who rely on blood have no other options, she said, because there is no pill or shot that will replace the blood that they need. 

“People have to get in and donate. Patients are still using blood nationwide,” Robbins said. “As of Tuesday last week, blood centers had lost over 4,000 blood drives and an estimated 130,000-plus donations. This is just the beginning. It is critical now more than ever. We are still counting on those units.” 

According to Robbins, people often associate the need for blood with accidents and other unplanned incidents but in reality, 90% of the blood used in the country goes to scheduled treatments for people with blood conditions, cancers or other illnesses. 

During the period of uncertainty caused by COVID-19 and the government’s restrictions on gatherings of more than 10 people, Robbins said, the Vitalant team will be taking extra precautions to guarantee the health and safety of those who donate. 

“The Centers for Disease Control has not classified blood drives as a gathering, they are classified as critical health care activity,” Robbins said. “Even the CDC recognizes the need for the constant supply.” 

Robbins said the team will do its best to meet social distancing requirements.  

“We will be taking extra precautions and will be wiping down commonly touched areas more frequently,” she said. “We are already very sanitary because of the nature of the work.” 

Local organizer Ellen Butts said that the equipment used is always sterile and the staff, as always, will be careful to protect individuals from bacterial exchange. 

As is customary, Robbins said, Vitalant is asking that anyone who is not feeling well stay home. 

“The first thing we always ask people is if they are feeling well and healthy today, that hasn’t changed,” Robbins said. “You shouldn’t come in ever if you aren’t feeling well, but we will be making sure we get that question out right away so people don’t even enter the room if they aren’t well.” 

The local blood drives, Robbins said, are the only way to donate in Newcastle and other towns that do not have Vitalant offices. Blood can be donated seven days a week at the Vitalant office, 2209 W. Omaha St., in Rapid City, she said. 

The Newcastle blood drive will be held at the Newcastle Lodge and Convention Center on April 6 from 11 a.m. to 5:45 p.m. Anyone can schedule an appointment by calling Butts at 746-4251. 

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