Health officials in Illinois say that the need to support the local blood supply is becoming urgent as surgical procedures increase while blood donations have not.
The Central Illinois Community Blood Center is continuing to see serious challenges to the local blood supply related to the COVID-19 pandemic, and are calling on blood donors to step forward in support of the local blood supply.
Kirby Winn, Public Relations Manager for blood center says the need is being driven by increasing levels of activity at local hospitals and a high number of blood drive cancellations related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“So many blood drives have had to be canceled, now they are not all canceled, but a lot of blood drives that we would have had on our books that might be at a business or a church or a community group that is now no longer meeting, and it’s all in connection with the pandemic and the restrictions on what organizations are allowed to do.
So throughout all of this we have been able to collect blood, but we have been significantly hindered by blood drive cancellations. In fact it has a total, close to 20,000 donations that our blood center would have collected on mobile blood drives that we are not going to have.”
Winn says CICBC is the provider of all blood and blood components transfused at Passavant Area Hospital, Memorial Medical Center, HSHS St. John’s Hospital, and then downturn in donations is affecting hospitals in the entire region.
“Now that’s a big big region that goes from St. Louis up to Madison, Wisconsin and it’s from March up to August. But week by week, we total what we, quote unquote, lost due to cancellations, and we’ve got to find a way to get these folks in, or out at another blood drive.
So the challenge for us is communicating the need because the donors are out there. People are still healthy and able to donate, they just may not be at the office that was going to hold the blood drive.”
Hospitals are now performing elective surgeries they had previously postponed, such as joint replacement, and have seen ongoing use of blood components for trauma, urgent surgery, cancer treatment, and other critical care throughout the pandemic.
Will says that type O blood is always needed because it is compatible to be transfused to all other blood types, however the blood center is in urgent need of all blood types in the wake of so many blood drive cancellations.
“But the rate of donation has been so much lower than it normally would be, that really there is not a blood type now that we have more than enough of, or even a sufficient amount of .
So don’t worry, if you’re thinking about giving and that you might not have the type that we need most, because we need every blood type right now to insure that we would not have any interruption in patient care.”
Winn says the need for donors is more urgent than ever right now, and blood center officials are hopeful that the blood supply can be increased to meet the demand and avoid a worse case scenario if the blood shortage becomes worse.
“What they will have to consider doing is delaying or rescheduling, postponing surgical procedures that might require use of blood to preserve the blood supply for the most critical needs for any kind of patient care that cannot be delayed.
There’s thinking about how that can be done, we don’t want to see that happen. There’s obviously a huge let down for a patient who is planning on a procedure, needing to have something taken care of, and we want to support that.
We are very grateful for the donors who are stepping forward and helping us avoid being in that circumstance.”
Due to COVID-19 concerns, blood donors are still required to make appointments for donation, in order to maintain social distancing and control the number of people in a facility at one time.
To make an appointment or to find a blood drive in your area, go to www.bloodcenter.org or call the blood center in Springfield located at 1999 Wabash Ave, toll free at 866-448-3253