Grapevine Communications and SunCoast Blood Centers work to increase local blood donations.
Blood shortages around the country have been one of the many unfortunate consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Grapevine Communications President Allison Imre and her staff were looking to help close that gap on a deficit that’s hit critical levels in the last few months by hosting a blood drive in front of their Lakewood Ranch office Sept. 18.
Imre said the drive was a success, with more than 10 people donating on a rainy day.
“We’ve had a lot of our staff give blood and we’ve even had some of the people from Cross-Fit behind us come and give blood as they’ve jogged by,” Imre said.
Joan Leonard, the SunCoast Blood Centers community liaison, said there’s about a day’s supply of blood available nationwide. Recent events, such as Hurricane Ida that struck the Louisiana coast, have made reserves even more scarce.
“This is a national crisis,” she said.
The pandemic has hit local blood banks particularly hard. Leonard said that 90% of SunCoast’s mobile drives were canceled in the first year of the pandemic. Things started to get better until a surge in COVID-19 cases resulted in more drives being canceled.
“A couple of businesses that we were going to were seeing an uptick in infections in their staffs, so we had to cancel because their full staff wasn’t there,” Leonard said. “We also aren’t on the high school campuses that we used to go to on a regular basis from August through May. We only have three of the 14 high schools that serve us that are having drives on their campuses."
Leonard said 15% of the U.S. population donated blood 20 years ago. That figure has dropped to less than 3%. If the figure drops any lower it would be similar to a fuel or food shortage.
“It isn’t as easy as placing a bus and having people flock to the bus,” Leonard said. “You really have to have others encouraging people to come on the bus. We’re out there every day asking people and we need new blood - as in people who have never donated before. That would be an answer to the shortage all over the country.”
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