The need for blood donation has always been great, but with the pandemic, that need has grown.
A joint statement from The American Association of Blood Banks (AABB), America’s Blood Centers, and the American Red Cross dated October 16, 2020, stated that blood supply in the United States “is critically low and the majority of the country’s blood centers are reporting significant declines in their blood collections. … Since the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, the blood community has experienced unprecedented fluctuations in both supply and the need for blood.”
At Trinity Hospital, “we have been asked to cut back on our stock numbers, how much of all products we keep in house, just because the donations started dropping off right away,” explained Jodi Grunseth, blood bank supervisor at Trinity Hospital.
While the blood bank has less of a surplus on hand, “we have never not provided product to a patient,” she said. “The overall numbers are down across the whole nation, but we’re fortunate here our patients are still getting what they need.”
According to the American Red Cross, someone in the United States needs blood every two seconds. One donation of blood can potentially save up to three lives. Red blood cells, plasma, and platelets are critical in the treatment of cancer patients, dialysis patients, and people being treated for bleeding disorders. “Emergencies and traumas, anemia, GI bleeds are a big one,” Grunseth said. “Cancer patients, they’re always in need.”
There is also convalescent plasma, which is given to COVID-19-positive patients. Individuals who have recovered from COVID-19 have plasma that may contain antibodies that may help suppress the virus and modify the inflammatory response of coronavirus. “The benefit of it is still not completely 100 percent known, but it does seem like it helps these patients,” Grunseth said, noting that the earlier the plasma is received, the more benefit there is in the patient’s recovery.
Vitalent, the blood bank that supplies Trinity Health, is “doing a good job, but I know they are reaching out as much as they can everywhere,” she said. “If anybody’s able, it’s wonderful if they can donate.”
Vitalent is located at 1919 N Broadway, Minot. To schedule an appointment, call 877-258-4825.