As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact local blood supplies, the Central California Blood Center says the need is greater than ever, and it’s both safe and extremely important for eligible donors to donate now.
Ersilia Lacaze, the blood center’s marketing director, says since the start of the pandemic, there’s been a severe drop in donors. This is for two reasons. First, people are afraid that coming into the center to donate could expose them to the virus.
Second, blood drives and community events usually held throughout the year have been canceled because of social distancing issues and adhering to California’s stay-at-home guidelines.
“When COVID first hit, immediately within 48 hours we lost hundreds of blood drives which represent thousands of blood units collected,” said Lacaze. “It has definitely had a huge impact on our ability to collect.”
But Lacaze says the center has been doing everything possible to keep blood donation safe by:
- Limiting number of donors inside the facility
- Distancing donor chairs
- Checking temperatures
- Requiring masks
The need for blood doesn’t go away during a pandemic
There is always a critical need for blood in the community, and that’s true even in a pandemic. To respond to everything from car accidents to premature births, Community Medical Centers’ hospitals must have a certain amount of blood on hand.
For instance, between Nov. 13 and Dec. 12, 2020, Community Regional Medical Center saw 365 trauma patients. To meet the blood demand for this number of patients, we rely on donors feeling comfortable enough to go regularly to the blood center and make donations.
Only 10% of eligible candidates donate blood
If you’ve never given blood before, you may be wondering – or afraid of – what’s required. This is fairly typical. Lacaze says most people are eligible to donate, but less than 10% actually do.
The whole process takes about 45 minutes to an hour, the longest part being the screening questions that happen before you even sit in the donor chair (that part only lasts about 15 minutes).
To donate, you need to:
- Be 16 years of age or older (those under 18 require a parental consent form)
- Have a valid I.D.
- Eat a good meal in the morning, and drink lots of water beforehand
Lacaze says even donors who are concerned about pain from a needle are surprised how easy blood donation really is.
“We can promise you the needle is not painful,” said Lacaze. “That’s usually a big fear that folks have, but our staff, they’re professionals. This is what they do.”
Because more than one blood product is made from a pint, one pint of blood can serve multiple purposes. So, with your 15 minutes in the donor chair, you can save as many as four or five patients.
Visit a Central California Blood Center location near you to help make a difference in our community today!