We Are Blood, the central Texas blood bank, and the American Red Cross are asking for blood donations after the winter storm last week.
The American Red Cross estimates that blood drives in 30 states were canceled last week, meaning more than 15,000 donated blood was not collected. In central and south Texas, an estimated 100 donated blood was not collected by the Red Cross last week.
We Are Blood had to close from February 14 to February 18. These five days without collecting blood or blood products “have brought us back to critical levels of blood donation, especially platelet donation,” says Nick Canedo, vice president of community engagement for We Are Blood, who supplies all blood to central Texas hospitals in a 10-county area.
Of particular concern is having to stop donating platelets, Canedo says, because platelets only have a five-day shelf life.
The need was particularly critical because in other crises, when We Are Blood had extremely low levels, blood could be airlifted or chased away from other communities. Since the airport was closed and roads were impassable last week, blood could not be brought from elsewhere. The need, however, has not changed.
“Patients continue to need blood on a daily basis,” Canedo says. “We cannot control when we need blood donations.”
People who want to donate blood can go weareblood.org and make an appointment. They can also register to host a mobile blood drive. We Are Blood does not accept walk-in donations due to COVID-19 restrictions.
We Are Blood also needs convalescent plasma for COVID-19 treatment; this is from people who have had COVID-19. Alldonors blood is now being tested for COVID-19 antibodies to see who might be eligible to donate plasma for this purpose. Canedo says that by screening all blood donors, We Are Blood finds people who have never tested positive or who were unaware they had COVID-19 antibodies in their blood.
A recent change from the FDA means blood banks have less COVID-19 convalescent plasma available. Previously, doctors could use both high and low titer convalescent plasma. The titer is the level of antibodies present. Now doctors can only donate high titer plasma. Canedo says We Are Blood sees only about 30% of recovering plasma donors with high titer.
The American Red Cross has set up blood banks in the coming days:
Thursday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Riverbend Church, 4214 N. Capital of Texas Highway
Monday 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., American Red Cross of Central and South Texas, 2218 Pershing Drive
At Cedar Park:
9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday, Rockbridge Church, 2001 W. New Hope Drive
VisitRedCrossBlood.org for more information.
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