The nonprofit Vitalant held a blood drive Friday at the Louisville Recreation and Senior Center, urging residents to give in their community and help the lives of people in need.
The drive saw 43 donors between 9:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Each donation was tested for COVID-19 antibodies to find potential convalescent plasma donors.
“Patients need blood every day,” said Jenna Valaika, Vitalant Donor Recruitment Representative. “We need to collect over 3,000 units of blood per week to keep up with Colorado’s typical blood need for patients.”
According to Vitalant Communications Manager, Liz Lambert, convalescent plasma donations are especially needed now to help patients currently battling the virus during the pandemic.
People who have tested positive for COVID-19 in the past and have since recovered or have tested positive for COVID-19 antibodies are being encouraged to go through the qualification process to see if they can donate convalescent plasma. This can be completed at vitalant.org/COVIDRescueTeam.
“Donors whose blood tests positive for antibodies can help a COVID-19 patient with their plasma while their other blood components could help a trauma victim, cancer patient or someone with another serious medical condition,” said Lambert in an email.
Lambert stated blood donors are increasingly needed at donation centers and community blood drives to make up for the drop-off of thousands of donations nationwide. Many canceled on-campus high school and college blood drives due to COVID-19 restrictions have contributed to this shortfall.
One unit of blood donated from a person can help three people, as the blood is divided into three parts, according to Valaika. Blood has a 42-day shelf life and must be sent in for testing before use, so they must constantly replenish the amount collected.
There is a current urgent need for O-negative blood donations, the universal blood type used in emergencies, but all other blood types are needed as well.
“One of the great things I’ve seen through this pandemic is that people are really willing to come out and donate,” said Valaika. “They wear their mask and be protected, wipe their hands off and get their temperature taken. It’s been a really great showing in the state of Colorado for people coming out to support blood donation and realizing that it’s essential all the time.”
Blood donations were spaced out in 15-minute increments to keep a steady flow of people coming in and out of the center. To ensure the safety of donors and staff, areas were cleaned between every donor, chairs were spaced six feet apart and face coverings or masks were required.
One of the donors on Friday, Patricia Camell, believes it’s important for people to come out and give blood. When asked how many times she has donated, she stated she couldn’t even begin to count but has already hit the five gallon mark.
“I think it’s just important for us to be able to give to our community, especially now in a time where it is hard for us to volunteer in other activities,” said Camell. “This is a great thing to give for our community.”
The next blood drive at the Louisville Recreation and Senior Center will be on Dec. 4 and appointments to any Vitalant blood drive or donation center can be made at vitalant.org or by calling 303-363-2300.
“Vitalant is grateful for blood drive hosts like this that make blood drives more convenient for more Coloradans in communities such as Louisville,” said Lambert in an email. “The closest Vitalant donation centers are in Boulder and Westminster, so organizations who host blood drives play an especially crucial role in helping ensure every patient need can be met every day.”