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Blood donors fill out SLO Vitalant appointments amid canceled mobile donation sites

Posted at 8:00 AM, Mar 27, 2020

Many people are now working from home in California to avoid spreading or catching the coronavirus but some Central Coast residents are venturing out to give a life saving donation of blood.

Within minutes of the doors to Vitalant opening up Thursday for donations, donors were already lined up to give blood.

"It means I'm helping saving lives," Dawn Pentoney, a platelet donor who traveled to San Luis Obispo from Paso Robles, said.

Dozens of others were scheduled to make their own blood and platelet donations after Pentoney.

In fact, if you visit the Vitalant website to schedule a donation in San Luis Obispo, appointments are booked up for days.

"We're booked all the way through the week and into next week," Vitalant SLO Spokeswoman Mona Kleman said.

The lack of immediate appointments is a good problem to have but Kleman said part of the reason is a series of canceled mobile blood drives.

"Yes, our centers are busy but we've lost hundreds and hundreds of units from not having these mobile blood drives," Kleman said.

With the closure of college campuses, churches, and other public spaces comes a cancellation of over one third of scheduled mobile blood drives.

"If anyone out there has a large inside setup that we could come and do a blood drive, that would be fantastic, that's what we're looking for now," Kleman said.

For those who do make an appointment at the SLO donation location, a temperature check is required at the door. Kleman wants to reassure donors that the facility is well sanitized.

"We've separated donor beds for adequate space while donating," Kleman said. "The staff glove up, disinfect and wipe down every touchable surface from the front desk to donation area, in between donor, everything is wiped down. Actually, I'd say the donation area is one of the safest places to be."

In a time of fear and uncertainty, donors like Pentoney are helping the best way they know how.

"We all have to help each other, it's the only way we're going to get out of this," Pentoney said.

If you're unable to make an appointment to donate blood, don't give up. Call Vitalant and they can direct you to a different location with available appointments.

If you're feeling sick in any way, be sure to cancel your appointment and reschedule when you are feeling well.

Vitalant is currently not accepting walk-in donors.