Pandemic Response: Blood Donors Urgently Needed to Meet Patient Need
(June 8, 2020 | Davenport, Iowa) – Leaders of Mississippi Valley Regional Blood Center (MVRBC), Genesis Health System, and UnityPoint Health System are calling on blood donors to step forward in support of the local blood supply. 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. Donors may schedule an appointment to give blood at an MVRBC Donor Center or mobile blood drive by calling (800) 747-5401, scheduling online at www.bloodcenterimpact.org, or via the IMPACT mobile app (www.bloodcenter.org/app).
MVRBC projects it will lose nearly 20,000 donations from cancelled blood drives between March and August of this year. “During the COVID-19 pandemic, many organizations that host mobile blood drives have been forced to cancel or postpone events due to temporary closures, work from home policies, and other factors,” said Amanda Hess, MVRBC Director, Donor and Public Relations. In March and April, local hospitals reduced patient care options to prioritize response to the COVID-19 pandemic. By postponing elective surgeries, demand for blood components dropped by approximately 40% compared with normal levels. But increasing levels of activity at local hospitals has increased the demand for blood.
“We are now supporting additional patient care options we had previously postponed, such as joint replacement and other elective surgery,” said Dr. Karen Fitzsimmons, Laboratory Director for Genesis Medical Center, Davenport. “And we have seen continued use of blood components for trauma, urgent surgery, cancer treatment, and other critical care throughout the pandemic.”
The appeal for donors comes in the days leading up to World Blood Donor Day. Observed annually on June 14, World Blood Donor Day commemorates the birth of Dr. Karl Landsteiner, born June 14, 1868 in Vienna, Austria. Landsteiner’s research identified the main blood groups: type A, type B, type AB and type O, as well as the Rh-factor in blood.
Through June 28, all presenting donors will receive a voucher for a $5 gift card and from June 12 – 28, donors will receive Double Points in the Blood Center’s donor loyalty store. The voucher for the $5 gift card is redeemable online or by phone for the donor’s choice of Amazon.com, Target, Subway, Burger King, iTunes/App Store, Applebee’s, Olive Garden, or Domino’s. Donors are awarded Double Points to use in the IMPACT Loyalty Store on select days of the year when donations are needed most. Points can be banked and then used to purchase apparel and other gifts in the Blood Center IMPACT Donor Loyalty Store. (For example, coolers, umbrellas or pop sockets.)
THANK THE DONOR: FEEDBACK FROM TRANSFUSION RECIPIENTS
Earlier this year, MVRBC implemented a program called “Thank the Donor” with select hospitals within the Blood Center’s service region that allows blood product recipients, their family, or friends to send one-way, anonymous, thank you messages to the actual donor(s) who gave the blood product(s) received. For more information, see www.bloodcenter.org/thankthedonor.
“Our daughter was diagnosed with B-Cell ALL in September 2019 at the age of 13. Cancer treatment causes her to need blood products often. Yesterday she received the gift of your donation. We just wanted to say thank you for being part of the team that is saving our child’s life! You were a great blessing to us yesterday and we are grateful!”
To maintain a safe, hygienic environment at Donor Centers and blood drives:
- All staff and donors are now required to wear a face covering while inside Donor Centers or participating in a mobile blood drive. Paper masks will be provided for those who arrive without their own mask or facial covering.
- Donors are now required to make appointments for donation. To maintain social distancing and appropriate donor flow, walk-ins will only be accepted when an appointment slot is available.
- Potential donors who are experiencing any symptoms of a COVID-19 infection or who have recently had exposure to the virus are asked to refrain from donation.
- Prior to donation, donors are screened for symptoms of illness (body temperature, heart rate, blood pressure, and hemoglobin level all are checked, and the donor completes a pre-donation Donor History Questionnaire).
- When possible, donors are asked to complete the Donor History Questionnaire online on the same day as their donation (see www.bloodcenter.org/EarlyQ)
- Staff have added space between chairs in screening areas and in the post-donation refreshment area. Between donations, staff wipe down chairs and surfaces to maintain a safe, hygienic environment.
About Mississippi Valley Regional Blood Center
Mississippi Valley Regional Blood Center (MVRBC), based in Davenport, Iowa, serves 115 hospitals in Illinois, Iowa, Missouri and Wisconsin, as well as resource sharing partners across the country. Locally, MVRBC is the provider to Genesis Health System hospitals in Davenport, DeWitt and Silvis; Hammond-Henry Hospital in Geneseo; Mercy Medical Center in Clinton; Select Specialty Hospital in Davenport, and UnityPoint Health System hospitals in Bettendorf, Moline, Muscatine and Rock Island.
The Blood Center’s service region extends from southwestern Wisconsin to St. Louis, Missouri and from Danville, Illinois to Chariton, Iowa. For more information, see www.bloodcenter.org and visit the Blood Center’s social media channels: www.facebook.com/MVRBC, www.twitter.com/willyougive, www.youtube.com/MVRBC, and www.instagram.com/willyougive/.