BETHLEHEM, PA - A nation in crisis and in desperate need of lifesaving blood donations.
"Our local healthcare systems are taking proactive and measured steps in order to manage the COVID19 worldwide pandemic," says Qiana Cressman, "But the availability and safety of our local blood supply has reached a critical stage."
Like countless others across the country, Miller-Keystone Blood Center in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania is urging those who are healthy and able, to donate; as the coronavirus crisis adds pressure to the nation’s already low blood supplies. Experts assure would-be donors, the new coronavirus cannot be spread through blood; either receiving or giving. But with the older generation, who typically donates more often, being advised to stay home, younger people are being called on to fill the crucial void.
"We have an aging donor demographic who have carried us for a really long time with consistently donating blood and now that that aging demographic is only donating as much as they can, we are now relying on the younger generation to pick up the baton," explains Cressman, the Director of Recruitment and Development at Miller-Keystone Blood Center, "We rely on 450 donors every single day to meet the needs of the 29 hospitals that we serve in our local community so that daily need doesn’t change just because of a crisis. We constantly need that."
Because of concerns surrounding COVID19, more than 75 blood drives have been called off across the Lehigh Valley. Resulting in the loss of more than 2 thousand crucial donations. And across the country, the U.S. has seen more than 12 thousand blood drives cancelled and a loss of more than 300 thousand contributions.
"Donated blood is an essential part of caring for patients and one donation can save up to three lives," explained U.S. Surgeon General, Dr. Jerome Adams, "Blood centers are open now and in need of your donation. I want America to know that blood donation is safe and blood centers are taking extra precautions based on new CDC recommendations; including spacing beds six feet apart, disinfecting surfaces between patients, temperature checking staff and encouraging donors to make appointments ahead of time so we can space them out."
Late last week, during the President’s press briefing with the coronavirus task force, U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams, urged those who can, to donate..
"Social distancing," he said, "does not have to mean social disengagement."
As a result, beginning today, Miller-Keystone is extending hours at its donor centers across the region, allowing those interested to schedule a visit to any of their centers in Allentown, Bethlehem, Easton, Pittston, Reading and Trenton online at Give a Pint dot org. And at the same time, addressing concerns from the public during this worldwide pandemic.
"We have a very safe and controlled environment that honors social distancing," Cressman told PBS39 News Tonight Reporter, K.C. Lopez, "Donating blood and a blood drive is not a mass gathering. We want our donors to know that our staff is wearing their personal protective equipment, we are constantly cleaning and sanitizing our equipment and everything we use. So that way we can make sure that the donor is safe, the staff is safe and ultimately, that blood product going to the patient is safe."
And just like before the pandemic, donors must be healthy with no fever or other signs of illness. But now, in the midst of the COVID19 outbreak, extra precautions are being taken, amid a need stronger now than ever.
Got a news tip? Email K.C. at KCLopez@WLVT.org!