Blood Bank of Delmarva is calling on the community to make appointments to visit donor centers, as COVID-19 has fundamentally changed the process of donating blood.
Before COVID-19, mobile blood drives hosted by high schools, colleges, businesses and other organizations made up about 40 percent of the region’s incoming blood supply, but the number of blood drives has dropped by two-thirds this year due to the pandemic.
The upcoming school year presents new and unprecedented challenges. Blood donations are typically lower during the summer, and the return to school usually helps make up the difference and stabilize the blood supply. In the past, school and college drives have resulted in 8,000 blood donations during each school year.
“The pandemic is forcing us to rethink the entire landscape, which means encouraging donors to take the extra step of making an appointment and traveling to a donor center. The loss of young donors is a particular challenge, because our future blood supply is dependent on these first-time donors becoming lifetime donors,” said Andrea H. Cefarelli, senior executive director of recruitment and marketing for Blood Bank of Delmarva. “We’ve always relied on the fall to provide a boost in blood donations from high school and college students hosting drives, and this year, we know this relief will not be coming.”
The blood bank began hosting a limited number of drives again this summer, but they are far from the number needed monthly to support area hospitals. Blood Bank of Delmarva is encouraging eligible donors of all ages to adapt to this new normal by making appointments to visit one of its four donor centers, which have expanded capacity and hours of operation in order to safely accommodate more donors.
In anticipation of lost high school and college blood drives, the blood bank is also asking student leaders and organizations to donate as groups in its donor centers. Those interested in bringing groups in are asked to email Director of Donor Recruitment Marie Forrestal at firstname.lastname@example.org. Scholarships will be awarded to students who demonstrate a propensity for bringing in donors.
Blood from volunteer donors is needed every two seconds to help meet the daily transfusion needs of cancer and surgery patients, accident and burn victims, newborns and mothers delivering babies, AIDS and sickle cell anemia patients, and many more.
To make an appointment to donate blood, go to donate.bbd.org.
Blood Bank of Delmarva also needs more partners to step up and help host drives in large venues. For more information for those with space available to host a blood drive, email email@example.com.
For information on extra precautions being taken to help prevent person-to-person spread of COVID-19, go to www.delmarvablood.org.