PEORIA — Blood donors in central Illinois and beyond deserve a pat on the back.
Just two weeks ago, the industry raised the alarm — the supply was falling perilously low in some parts of the country, a side effect of quarantines to stop the spread of COVID-19. Numerous blood drives were canceled.
But today the blood supply is in good shape in central Illinois because individual donors walked into donor centers all over the territory served by the Mississippi Valley Regional Blood Center to fill the need.
“Donor centers have been busy,” said Kirby Winn, manager of public relations for MVRBC. “The public response, and the donor response, has been very favorable over the last week or so. I think it’s people not sure exactly what they can do to help, but they’ve heard the message ... and we are keeping up, we are meeting patient needs.”
All of MVRBC’s donor centers have seen increased traffic in the last week. The most established donor centers, in Moline and Davenport, more than doubled their average daily donations yesterday. In Peoria, their newest donation center, traffic is up dramatically. Yesterday it saw 16 donors.
“We had only projected four, so 16 means we are operating at 400%,” said Winn.
While some community blood drives are being held, most sponsored drives at schools and businesses have been canceled since COVID-19 came into the picture. It’s imperative that individual donors continue to participate in the effort, said Winn.
“I don't want to give the impression that we are set for all time because the blood supply never is. It continually gets used, and the blood product expires,” said Winn.
While MVRBC has dealt with cyclical shortages in the wake of weather events, a shortage caused by a pandemic is unprecedented. Industry experts don't know what course it will follow.
“This is different. Donor response has been strong and favorable, we are meeting patient needs, but we also know everything can change. Especially if we see more rates of infection, donor behavior might change, so it’s important for us to get appointments on the books.”
In an effort to maintain social distancing, walk-in donations are no longer accepted at either blood donation centers or community blood drives. Schedule an appointment at the MVRBC donor center in Peoria online at www.bloodcenter.org/donate/locations/illinois/peoria/ or call (800) 747-5401 to learn about other donation locations.
Leslie Renken can be reached at 686-3250 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter.com/LeslieRenken, and subscribe to her on Facebook.com/leslie.renken.