Blood donation shortage increases; local blood bank pleads residents to donate

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"It just breaks my heart, it really does. People are just not seeing the impact it's having on us."

MIDLAND, Texas (Big 2/Fox 24) – The Coronavirus is leading dozens of closures in the area, and experts say one industry has been hit particularly hard.

Vitalant’s Donor Recruitment Supervisor, Dianne Scott, says during her 19 years of employment, she has never seen this many blood drive cancellations. As a matter of fact, the quota for this month has not even been met half-way. Scott says the situation is dire, and the people who need it most, are in jeopardy.

“It is a critical emergency at this point,” said Executive Director of the American Red Cross Permian Basin, Tracy Austin. “Blood is not something that you can synthesize. Blood is the only thing that will keep certain people alive. It is a life-saving measure.”

Since the COVID-19 outbreak, blood drives have been practicing social distancing by keeping donors five to six feet away from each other. All donors are also screened before entering the bloodmobile to make sure they are healthy.

“So, I do think if you’re smart about it, you can still give blood, and we can make up the difference,” said Austin.

Scott with Vitalant blood bank says hospitals rely on them for 800 pints of blood every month. This March, she barely has 200 pints with less than two weeks to go.

“People just don’t want to be around other people, and I get that. But we’re not having a lot of people together in one place,” explained Scott. “It just breaks my heart, it really does. People are just not seeing the impact it’s having on us.”

In order to meet the monthly quota, Scott usually holds about 32 blood drives. She says this month alone, there have been 20 cancellations. Of those, school drives are having the biggest impact.

“About 60% of the blood comes from teenagers in high schools. Student Council, NHS, they all get together and have blood drives. It’s so exciting! But now, that’s off of the board,” said Scott.

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