Concern continues to grow over the gap between levels of blood donation and patient need in Central Illinois.
ImpactLife is the new name for the provider of blood and blood components to all hospitals in Jacksonville, Springfield, and Peoria, as well as many other communities across central Illinois.
Public Relations Manager for ImpactLife, Kirby Winn says projections for the rate of blood donation over the next three weeks are below the rate needed to keep pace with the patient’s need. He says the holiday season makes it more of a challenge to keep levels up.
“People have a lot to take care of at Christmas time and through the holiday season. Sometimes it means that making an appointment to give blood doesn’t make it to the top of the list. Not to mention that we just don’t have as many blood drives the week of Christmas or the week of New Year’s. Office buildings that might hold an event don’t tend to want to schedule those right before the holidays.
The regular blood drives we have at schools aren’t on our calendar during the school breaks, so it all kind of adds up. But the use of blood stays the same, you know that doesn’t go down. So that’s the challenge and there does get to be a gap between what is needed at the hospital versus what we can collect.”
ImpactLife is encouraging donors to step forward this week and next to help make sure the region’s blood supply is strong and stable through the last weeks of 2021 and into the new year. Winn says hampering the issue is ImpactLife is still feeling the effects from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“There are groups that did hold blood drives regularly before the pandemic, and early on they had to bow out and say we can’t have you right now, and they just haven’t all returned. Many have, things are closer to normal than they were, but we experienced a loss there that we haven’t recovered from fully and it really kind of adds up.
You know if you look at our total service region, we go from up around Madison, Wisconsin down to St. Louis, and we go from Danville, Illinois over into south-central Iowa. And the impact of the groups that just haven’t returned or maybe haven’t returned at the same level, it all adds up and has an impact meaning that the blood supply is lower as we go into the holiday season than we have seen in other years.”
Winn says ImpactLife needs donations from all blood types but is especially concerned about the supply of type O red blood cells and platelets.
“Blood group O, type O whether positive or negative, that’s the universal blood type and always in high demand at the hospitals, we serve because the type O blood cell and go to all the other blood types so it gets more use. But that said, say A positive or the B’s, the AB’s, they are all needed too. Because after all when the patient’s blood type is known in advance, so maybe not an emergency situation but a scheduled surgery, if they can be given a matched compatible blood type that’s not O, then that helps also.”
Winn says the weeks leading up to Christmas and New Year holidays are especially challenging, with many groups unable to schedule mobile blood drives and donors busy with holiday events and travel.
He says though, there are still opportunities to give blood at community blood drives and ImpactLife donation centers across the blood center’s service region.
For scheduling information, donors are asked to call ImpactLife at (800) 747-5401, schedule online at www.bloodcenter.org, or via the ImpactLife mobile app.