Blood drive highlights ‘urgent need’ for blood and plasma donations

Blood donor Elizabeth Kennedy said she turned up to ‘help the community’ by giving the gift of life. PHOTO BY SAMANTHA LYLES

By Samantha Lyles
slyles@newsandpress.net

Darlington’s Public Square hosted a blood drive last Wednesday, and all donors received free testing for COVID-19 antibodies and a $20 gift card to say thanks for giving the gift of life.
“We do have an urgent need for blood right now, and we’re seeing consecutive days of low donor turnout,” says Allie Van Dyke, media coordinator for The Blood Connection.
She notes that the shortage of donors with type O-negative blood is particularly troubling as donations from this “universal red cell” group are the least likely to cause serious reactions in recipients.
As to why there is such a blood shortage right now, Van Dyke says it’s difficult to pinpoint one reason, but it’s likely that people are busy trying to segue back into regular routines as school and work slowly resume.
“People are getting used to the new normal,” she says, “and we’re hoping that new normal will include giving blood like so many people did at the beginning of the pandemic. People were very focused on giving back and helping others, but as time passes we’re hoping they will keep us in mind.”
While any blood donation is a worthy endeavor, Van Dyke explains that giving at a Blood Connection drive has a specific impact on local health.
“We are the blood provider for local hospitals in the area, so part of our mission is to keep blood donations local. When people donate with The Blood Connection they are helping save the lives of their neighbors,” Van Dyke says.
Even though turnout in Darlington might have been hampered by the threat of severe weather as Hurricane Sally’s remnant storm clouds menaced overhead, some drive-up and walk-up traffic continued throughout the afternoon.
“I just want to help the community,” said donor Elizabeth Kennedy, as she signed up to give blood.
To boost participation during the month of September, all donors receive a $20 Visa gift card. These promotions change from month to month, and while the incentives are not large Van Dyke says they might provide a little nudge in the right direction for those contemplating donation.
Every donation is tested by The Blood Connection for COVID-19 antibodies, but a positive test does not necessarily mean that you had the virus, and it does not imply that you are immune to the virus. Testing positive for antibodies simply means that your body encountered the virus at some point and your immune system triggered a response.
Also, an antibody test is not a substitute for a COVID-19 diagnostic test. Anyone who feels they have symptoms should consult their health care provider and get a nasal swab or throat swab test to determine their status.
Those who do test positive for antibodies may be eligible to donate convalescent plasma, which could help save the lives of patients battling COVID-19. Results of the antibody test are confidentially delivered to donors online within 7 business days.
To learn more about future blood drive events, visit https://thebloodconnection.org and click the Donate Now button to search by city or ZIP code.

Author: Rachel Howell

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