INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) — We've seen all kinds of changes in the world through the last few months because of the coronavirus pandemic. But one thing that has not changed is the need for blood donations to save lives.
Versiti Blood Center of Indiana has an urgent need for blood donations from O negative and O positive donors.
O negative is the universal donor type, meaning it can help every patient, regardless of their blood type. O positive is the most common blood type, so it can be used to help lots of patients in need.
Dr. Dan Waxman, Vice President of Transfusion Medicine for Versiti, said not only have surgeries not started back up, but their mobile drives have stopped as well.
"Normally when we collect blood, 70% of what we're collecting were blood mobiles, and 30% of our overall annual collections are at high schools and colleges," Dr. Waxman said. "Since all of the high schools and universities have been closed the last couple of months, we're not going out on these mobiles, and we required people come to our donor centers."
Versiti has more than a dozen donor centers throughout the metro area, Lafayette and Terre Haute, but it's hard to get people in the doors due to coronavirus concerns.
"We normally could go to a high school in Indianapolis and collect over 100 to 200 donations at one collection site," Dr. Waxman said. "That's really been a stress on it is not having enough donors. And so what we really need is for people to to come to us."
Dr. Waxman said Versiti is taking every precaution to keep you safe while you donate.
"Right off the bat, one of the things that you'll notice is that all of our staff are wearing masks. So, we also ask donors to wear masks when they come to us," Dr. Waxman said. "It's OK to have their homemade mask or, if they do have a hospital-type mask, but we're requiring that donors wear masks — that's first and foremost."
Employees are also taking the temperature of everyone prior to donating. Dr. Waxman said anyone with an elevated temperature above a certain level will be asked to go home and not donate until they are without a fever.
To go along with the pre-screening process, donors will be asked a series of questions in terms of coming into contact with anyone with COVID-19.
And lastly, Dr. Waxman said the facility is implementing social distancing between donors, as well as wiping down all equipment in between each donation.
Dr. Waxman said the urgent need for blood donations is a nationwide trend right now.
"Because of the pandemic, that's also led to some of the difficulty in having what we have [for] these big donor collections where we can collect several hundred donations," Dr. Waxman said. "We're only able to collect so many donors per hour, but we've got plenty of staff, we've got plenty of donor chairs and we've extended our hours.
Click here to learn more information or by calling (317) 916-5150.
"We believe, right now, we're very, very concerned about the ability to keep up with surgeries and just have the basic blood, especially for trauma surgeons," Dr. Waxman said.
The entire process only takes an hour.
One donation can save three lives.