The joint partnership blood drive will be on July 29.
As COVID-19 cases and hospitalization rates at Sarasota hospitals rise, convalescent plasma from recovered patients is needed more and more as demand outpaces supply.
“There has been an uptick in donors coming in (but) we cannot keep up with the convalescent plasma supply,” said Joan Leonard, community liaison with the Sarasota Blood Bank.
Local organizations are looking to help. On Wednesday, July 29, Suncoast Science Center and SunCoast Blood Centers will host a joint blood drive in the hopes of increasing blood donations and, subsequently, plasma donations.
Suncoast Science Center's foray into helping with medical needs started three months ago when staff worked with more than 200 volunteers to create face mask and face shield assembly kits to be donated to the community. When staff learned about the need for blood donations, they reached out to work with the SunCoast Blood Centers.
The Science Center is providing the location for the upcoming blood drive, while SunCoast Blood Centers are handling the donation services. Three blood buses will be parked at the Science Center’s parking lot for people to give donations on an appointment-based schedule.
"We're the host site, you could say," said Jenn Sams, marketing and communications director for the Suncoast Science Center. "They're handling the appointments and we're promoting it. And they then will take the blood obviously, and do what it is they do so well and get it out to the community.
“We're sending three buses out there, three mobile units,” Leonard said. “Which is kind of unheard of, but they already have 26 (people) registered, and we're going to look for 75 donations that day.”
Every person who successfully donates blood at the four-hour event will be tested for COVID-19 antibodies free of charge. Results from the antibodies test takes around 10 days, and if a person tests positive, staff strongly encourages them to come back to donate much-needed plasma. Blood bank staff will be contacting donors who tested positive for COVID antibodies.
“The more people that come in and donate the blood, just a percentage basis, the more donors that we're going to find out have antibodies and then come back,” Leonard said.
Between registration, a health checkup, iron level screenings, blood pressure and heart rate checks, and actually drawing the blood, the entire process takes around a half hour.
Beyond blood testing, the Science Center will offer tours of its facility and Faulhaber Fab Lab. Attendees will receive volunteer-designed memento of the day — a personalized key chain with their name etched in — that were cut from acrylic sheets with a laser cutter.
“They’ll get a little taste of our world as well,” Sams said.
If You Go:
Where: Suncoast Science Center, 4452 S Beneva Road
When: 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday, July 29
Email: Donna Leigh-Estes at [email protected]
Be symptom free more than 14 days
Provide written documentation of a positive COVID-19 test result
Meet FDA donor eligibility guidelines
You must call or email for an appointment