YMCAs offering safe spaces for blood donations amid shortage linked to pandemic

Posted at 11:25 AM, Sep 02, 2020

It’s National Blood Donation Week and as countries around the world deal with the coronavirus pandemic, America is also suffering from a blood shortage.

“We need 5,500 units or donations of blood everyday across our country,” said Brittany Calvert with Vitalant, one of the country’s oldest and largest nonprofit blood service providers.

Helping try to fill that need are people like lifelong blood donor Karl Baines who donated blood at theDowntown Denver YMCA.

“We waited a couple months until we felt things were safe but this is the second time we’ve given since COVID hit,” he said.

Since COVID-19 hit, many blood drives have been canceled.

“Typically, we partner with corporations, businesses and schools,” Calvert said. “Right now, they really can’t commit to host blood drives.”

Calvert says with COVID-19 making blood drives much more difficult to hold, YMCAs across the country started helping by providing large indoor spaces that can accommodate social distancing and allow for blood to be collected safely.

“They really stepped up and opened their doors,” she said. “We’re doing multiple blood drives a month in the YMCAs.”

In addition to the blood drive, Vitalant is also testing for COVID-19 antibodies, a move questioned by some medical experts, but blood donor leaders say it’s well worth the investment.

“We know that this is an experimental and investigational treatment,” Calvert said. “But hospitals want it and so we are doing everything that we can to provide them with what they need to support the patients that they are treating right now for COVID-19.”

With bags of donated blood having a shelf life of about six weeks, Calvert is calling on more people to be like Baines and become a blood donor during this crisis.