With so many blood drives having been cancelled, blood donation centers ask the community for help.
Area blood banks hope to get the message out that their donation centers are safe and that they have an urgent need.
Since the coronavirus pandemic began, blood banks operating in Manatee County have reported a nearly 50% drop in donations.
Jayne Giroux, director of community development for SunCoast Blood Centers, said that on a normal day, donations total about 175 units of blood, but lately, the average has been about 70-80 units.
Most mobile blood drives, which typically provide 60% of all blood donated, are canceled through May and into early June.
With hospitals restarting elective surgeries and more traffic back on the roadways as businesses reopen, the number of accidents and their need for blood increases. Additionally, on May 4, SunCoast Blood Centers became the secondary blood provider for Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa.
In the first week of May, its collection goal was 1,200 units of blood, but it only collected 332.
“Usage is way up, and our donations are way down,” Giroux said. “We’ve had about 80% of our blood drives canceled. Businesses are still not back to capacity where it makes sense to have drives there. We used to do a lot of drives in neighborhoods, but homeowners associations don’t feel secure to let us come in.”
SunCoast Blood Centers has four blood donation centers in Sarasota and Manatee counties and three mobile buses for donations.
Pat Michaels, spokesperson for OneBlood, said the agency distributes about 2,500 units of blood to 250 hospitals throughout the Southeast per week. It is one of the largest blood centers in the country and has 200 mobile bus units and 90 donor centers.
Blood mobiles account for 75% of donations, and OneBlood also has seen a significant drop in donations.
“We continue to get cancellations that were from schools and colleges, which account for about 18% of our blood donations in general,” Michaels said. “OneBlood is looking for partnerships with organizations that are operating and/or would like to hold a blood drive. Holding a blood drive is a life-saving outreach.”
Giroux said donations of blood and platelets are critical, particularly for negative blood types.
Both OneBlood and SunCoast Blood Centers also are collecting convalescent plasma, which is plasma from recovered COVID-19 patients.