Demand for blood rising as surgeries are rescheduled

Community asked to make and keep appointments to donate blood
May 7, 2020
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As South Texas hospitals begin to reschedule postponed surgeries, the South Texas Blood & Tissue Center (STBTC) is asking members of the community to come forward with lifesaving blood donations and to keep their appointments.

The South Texas Blood & Tissue Center, a subsidiary of San Antonio-based BioBridge Global, already is seeing a significant increase in orders for blood following Gov. Greg Abbott’s order for hospitals to resume elective surgeries and procedures.

The center estimates it needs 500 donors a day to keep up with demand.

“Right now, we are sending out 150 more units of blood every day than we’re bringing in,” said Elizabeth Waltman, Chief Operating Officer of STBTC. “Our community has always responded in times of need and we hope they will continue to answer the call caused by this pandemic.”

Elective procedures, including some transplants, knee replacements, back surgeries and many others that were put on hold have now been scheduled, adding to the blood needs beyond emergency use.

“Elective surgeries are now allowed and there is a large demand for blood for both sick patients and those that are requiring elective surgery,” said Dr. Leslie Greebon, Medical Director of Transfusion Services at University Health System.

“Places that used to be the largest suppliers of blood donations, such as large business, colleges and high schools, are not currently operating. Therefore, the current donor turnout is not meeting the demands of our sick patients and those that need elective surgeries.”

“As businesses and community groups are preparing to return to the new ‘norm,’ it is crucial that scheduling and confirming a summer blood drive becomes a priority. Projections show that there is a deficit of more than 4,500 units scheduled in June and July,” added Waltman.

With safety measures in place that include social distancing, the use of face masks and additional sanitation measures at blood drives and donor rooms, the South Texas Blood & Tissue Center and University Health System are asking the public to schedule appointments to donate. With only about 70% of donors currently keeping their appointments, the centers are seeing gaps in collections.

“We need donors to schedule their appointments now and in the near future to ensure that we have enough blood for everyone during this critical time,” Dr. Greebon said.

Donors can call 210-731-5590, or visit SouthTexasBlood.org/Give-Now, to make or reschedule an appointment with STBTC, as well as locate a nearby drive or one of its seven donor rooms.

They also can give at the University Hospital Blood Donor Room, 4502 Medical Drive. To schedule an appointment with University Hospital, donors can call 210-358-2812 or visit DonateBloodToday.com.

Blood centers have established multiple procedures and practices to keep donors safe while giving blood. Those precautions, along with recommendations for staying healthy during the COVID-19 pandemic, are at SouthTexasBlood.org/Coronavirus.

STBTC drives scheduled for May: