Earlier this week, the Oklahoma Blood Institute announced it is running dangerously low on blood donations during the COVID-19 pandemic, with the organization saying it is currently facing its “greatest challenge.”
OBI hosted just 25 percent of its usual monthly blood drives in May, OBI media manager Heather Browne said, due to the closures of most church and school buildings across the state throughout much of the pandemic. As hospitals continue resuming elective surgeries and procedures, the OBI is urging residents to donate blood to help increase supply across the state.
“As surgeries resume throughout Oklahoma, the blood supply is dangerously low. As the state’s leading voice for physicians, the Oklahoma State Medical Association is committed to fostering better health for all Oklahomans,” Oklahoma State Medical Association president Dr. George Monks said in a press release. “Part of this is ensuring our healthcare facilities have access to the blood desperately needed to help patients throughout the state recover from injuries, disease, and life-saving surgeries. We are proud to partner with the Oklahoma Blood Institute in this effort.”
More than a month’s supply of blood donations have been lost due to COVID-19 impacts, according to a press release from the OBI. The Oklahoma Blood Institute provides more than 90 percent of the blood to the state, the press release reads, requiring 1,200 donors each day to keep blood supplies steady
Without a rapid increase in blood donations, blood supplies will soon reach critical levels, Browne said.
“We’re urging anyone who can donate blood to please visit our website and look for a blood drive near them,” Browne said. “We need as many people who are willing to donate as possible.”
OBI has instituted additional sanitary measures at its blood drive sites, and donor center and mobile blood drives have been adapted to allow for social distancing. All staff and donors will also have their temperatures taken before entering the facility or starting work to ensure only healthy individuals are present, Browne said.
There are no cases of COVID-19 transferring through blood donations, according to the Food and Drug Administration.
The OBI donor center is currently under construction and is projected to reopen to the public in mid-June, Browne said. Until it reopens, residents can donate blood at Reeves Park each week from 8-5 on Monday and Tuesday, and 12-5 on Wednesday and Friday.
Donors at select blood drives will also have the opportunity to receive a free COVID-19 antibody test, Browne said. Residents who register with OBI can receive emails regarding which blood drives are offering the test.
With the closing of school buildings as sites for large blood drives, OBI is asking local businesses and organizations to offer parking lots as sites for mobile blood drives. Any business or organization interested in hosting a blood drive, or residents interested in donating blood, can visit OBI.org or call 877-340-8777.
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