Editorial: Give the gift of life, donate blood

Amazon Gift Cards worth $20.

Food from Chick-fil-A.

Those are not raffle prizes to be won from the local civic club or incentives to open a bank account.

They are the desperate measures Blood Assurance, which supplies blood to area hospitals, undertook recently to entice people into donating blood.

The organization offered the gift cards and food on Thursday when it had less than a half day supply of O positive and O negative blood and noted "there is a very critical need for all blood types at this time."

Over three weeks in March and April Blood Assurance held a Donor Madness event to highlight the need for blood and to celebrate Blood Assurance donors.

Blood Assurance last month said it was suspending convalescent plasma collections and COVID-19 antibody testing because of increased vaccination rates "and the increased demand for all other blood donations such as whole blood, platelets and plasma."

"If things change, we will start collecting convalescent plasma again, but for now the country has a significant stockpile so we no longer need to collect it.," said Dr. Liz Culler, medical director at Blood Assurance. "Even though we are not collecting convalescent plasma at this time, we are still highly encouraging the community to give whole blood, regular plasma and platelets for our area patients in need. Our focus needs to be on the current hospital demand and the shortage of all other crucial donations."

The organization said it was still dealing with low donor turnout and has been in "critical need" of several blood types "consistently during the past year. (Blood Assurance), like many blood banks across the country, is reporting its lowest donor turnout since the (COVID-19) pandemic began. This is creating a shortage because many people are resuming travel and normal activities."

As those activities increase, more incidents are likely to happen and thus the need for more blood will be there.

The organization noted this week, "Blood Assurance has less than a one day supply of B negative blood. A positive and A negative are in need at this time as well with only two days supply available. Ideally Blood Assurance has five days supply on the shelf at all times to be prepared for the needs of area hospitals."

You get the picture. Concerns about COVID-19 have seriously impacted Blood Assurance's stockpiles. It notes, "Blood Assurance is continuing to take extra precautions at this time to ensure the safety of donors and staff. Staff and donors are required to wear masks, and staff are frequently disinfecting all items and surfaces used by donors."

And it notes that "Donors who have received a Moderna, Pfizer or Johnson & Johnson vaccine are eligible to donate blood with no waiting period. Blood donated by individuals who have received the vaccine is completely safe for patient transfusion."

To be eligible to donate blood, you must be at least 17 years old (16 years old with parental consent), weigh 110 pounds or more and be in good health. We encourage you to donate if you meet these criteria.

It has been said that blood donation is "the gift of life." You should not need to be induced or bribed to give such a gift.

"The only way to ensure patients have the blood they need is for people to donate," Blood Assurance says.

The gift of life. What better gift can there be?

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