Blood donations desperately needed at collection centers

TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - The donation of ‘life-saving’ blood was a problem for East Texas blood donation centers over 2020 during the pandemic.

In most years, blood centers often have to appeal to the general public for life-saving donations of blood.

And 2020 was much harder.

“Since the Covid pandemic started last March we’ve had to completely restructure how we recruit blood donors. We’re on about a one day supply, in normal years we’d be at a 3 to 5 day supply right now,” says Carter Bloodcare-Tyler director of operations Clinton McCoy.

As people worked from home during the pandemic, it meant they were not donating blood.

“Everybody was very scared to go anywhere. To do anything. Kind of forgot about giving blood. Was focused on staying home,” says Longview worker Erin Houghton.

“The demand for those blood products haven’t changed. It’s just our ability to collect which has caused most our issues lately,” McCoy says.

And during the pandemic, mobile efforts were shut down, a huge part of Carter Bloodcare’s percentage.

“We used to count on our mobile collections to be about 60 percent of our blood drives,” Clinton says.

But fixed locations were a different story.

Carter Bloodcare in Longview says they had a surplus of people coming in wanting to give blood.

“Our Longview center has been busier than it’s ever been for the whole year,” says McCoy.

One reason might be last June, Carter began offering antibody testing on blood donations, to find whether the donor had been in contact with or contracted Covid. An incentive to come in, but the bigger message: The need for blood is critical year round.

“You think of all those things that go on in hospitals, complex cancer treatments, heart surgeries brain surgeries, mothers in labor. If there’s blood not on the shelf, those medical procedures and medical miracles can’t happen so, those miracles that our doctor are working on every single day rely on a steady blood supply to be there,” says Clinton.

They hope with life getting more or less back to normal, that people will feel safe donating again.

“It’s the blood donated today that saves life when the tragedy happens,” McCoy says.

Antibody testing on blood donations, is still being offered at ‘Carter Bloodcare’ locations.

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