The Blood Connection stresses new ways to donate in the Covid-19 era
For years, we’ve seen The Blood Connection’s bloodmobiles in parking lots and at businesses around the Upstate, taking donations to make sure our local hospitals and medical facilities stay stocked with the blood they need. But in the age of COVID, there aren’t as many bloodmobiles around town as there once were; it’s just a sad reality of life during a pandemic.
“More than half of our daily donations in the Upstate come from bloodmobiles,” says Allie Van Dyke of The Blood Connection. “They’re very important, and this year has been difficult because we have lost a lot of those large companies, organizations and schools. They have not been able to have us back for safety reasons, which is no fault of theirs.” And that’s not great for our local communities, because The Blood Connection is the exclusive blood provider for every Upstate hospital. This means The Blood Connection is the only blood center that is providing blood products to hospitals in this area. So in order to keep the plasma, platelets, red cells and whole blood coming, The Blood Connection is trying to get the word out about its donation centers. “We have five donation centers in the Upstate,” Van Dyke says. “That’s the most we have because we started here. Our centers are convenient for the donors who used to give at churches and schools.” And the fact is, just like one can arrange for the bloodmobile to make a visit, it’s just as easy for them to arrange for folks to give at a donation center.
Actually, it’s easier.
“It’s even more simple than hosting a blood drive,” Van Dyke says, “because it doesn’t really require any parking logistics. So someone can reach out to us and say ‘I want to bring people from my company on this day to the center on Woodruff Road.’ Our centers are open every single day. So it’s just a matter of the host getting everyone together and coming at the same time or making appointments and coming throughout the day.” Oh, and if you DO see a bloodmobile out and about, consider stopping and donating. The Blood Connection has made the process as safe as possible. “We take all of our cues from the FDA; they let us know what’s safe and not safe. And really, other than our cleaning protocols, having to stay 6 feet apart and adding masks into the equation, nothing else about blood donation has changed.” Regardless of where you go to donate, Van Dyke says the important thing is to give. “We have hospitals and hospital patients who are relying on us to get those donations,” she says. “You really don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow. We don’t know what Prisma Health and Bon Secours Hospitals might need. We’re just trying to do our best to make sure that we keep the blood supply stable so that we’re ready for anything.”