LIMA — Jerry Craig of Lima was among an estimated 80 people who donated blood at the American Red Cross Chapter House this week in Lima.
Craig has been donating for nearly 35 years now.
“I’m almost up to 10 gallons, so I’ve been giving for quite a while,” Craig said.
It was unlike anything Craig has seen before, though. The process for donors who want to give blood has changed.
For one thing, you have to make an appointment ahead of time, and then there’s someone who checks your temperature as you come into the building. They’ll also have you use hand sanitizer before you enter. Medical personnel will wear masks and change their gloves between each donor.
These changes were necessitated due to the new coronavirus pandemic that’s upended life as we know it.
“It feels a little weird, but I understand it. I respect it,” Craig said.
BioLife Plasma Services, located on Elida Road outside Lima, is also looking for people who have recovered from the coronavirus, so it can collect the plasma, which could be used for a potential treatment for COVID-19.
“The more prospective healthy donors we can identify as early as possible, the sooner we may be able to initiate development of this potential treatment and the more therapies we can potentially provide,” according to a statement on the company’s webpage. “With the SARS-CoV-2 virus continuing to spread and cases of COVID-19 continuing to rise worldwide, we count on the support of those who have fully recovered to help us with our efforts to develop a potential treatment for those most at risk.”
Giving blood now is more important than ever.
“As the pandemic has started to spread, one of the things that is a big side effect that maybe people didn’t anticipate. As businesses were closing, schools are closing, blood drives were also being canceled,’ said Rodney Wilson, communications manager for American Red Cross Blood Services. “Starting in early March, we started to see an alarming number of blood drives canceling every single day and that number just continued to grow throughout the month of March in unprecedented numbers. If there’s no blood drives, there’s no blood available for hospitals, which impacts patient care.”
Eliminating elective surgeries during the pandemic did help to some extent.
“The fact that they removed those surgeries means that the blood that is available can be used for the things that can’t wait, such as cancer patients who still need treatment, women will still be giving birth and may hemorrhage, premature infants often need a transfusion, accidents like traumatic injuries like car accidents, those all will still occur and we’re able to focus the blood usage on those and the elective surgeries can wait,” Wilson said.
The FDA also is allowing people who previously couldn’t give blood permission to do so now.
“One of the changes was reducing the wait time for giving blood for men who have sex with men. Another one was the wait time if you received a tattoo from a non-licensed tattoo parlor, and there was a change for people traveling in Europe. Those wait times changed from a 12-month wait period to a three-month wait period,” Wilson said.
Reach Sam Shriver at 567-242-0409.