LifeSouth: Donating blood not affected by COVID-19 pandemic

By Wesley LeBlanc wesley@opcfla.com
Posted 5/5/21

CLAY COUNTY – The need for blood doesn’t take a vacation so neither does LifeSouth Community Blood Centers, the organization that stocks the shelves of Northeast Florida hospitals.

Keeping …

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LifeSouth: Donating blood not affected by COVID-19 pandemic

Posted

CLAY COUNTY – The need for blood doesn’t take a vacation so neither does LifeSouth Community Blood Centers, the organization that stocks the shelves of Northeast Florida hospitals.

Keeping those shelves stocked has been harder than ever before due to the global COVID-19 pandemic and LifeSouth is trying to get one simple message out: they still need blood. Despite what some might believe, the novel coronavirus has no effect on blood. While nobody should give blood when they have COVID-19 because they might transmit the virus to the recipient. But according to LifeSouth community development coordinator, Karen Patterson, there have been no transmissions of the virus through blood donation.

“It’s still safe and we still need it every day,” Patterson said. “One in three people will need blood in their lifetime. People have taken a break, but the need for a blood supply never did.”

Patterson said blood donation numbers were down 50% when the pandemic began, a big hit for the organization that usually collects 35,000 units of blood of year – the primary reason was people were scared to go out. When little was known about COVID-19 beyond the dangers associated with it, a lot of people stayed home and a lot of those people were regular blood donors.

Patterson said LifeSouth is getting the word out the organization following all CDC recommendations and donating blood at this time is safe. It’s even safe for those that have had COVID-19 in the past, but no longer have it. The Moderna, Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson vaccines don’t affect one’s ability to donate blood either, she said.

LifeSouth has a donor center at the Baptist Medical Center in Jacksonville that’s open Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays; a center on Baymeadows Way in Jacksonville open Monday through Friday; and, bloodmobile that stops at various locations in Clay County.

The bloodmobile can be brought directly to neighborhoods, churches and businesses. More information about it can be found at lifesouth.org and right now, anyone who donates blood will get a $10 e-certificate gift card.

LifeSouth supplies more than 300 hospitals across Florida, Georgia and Alabama, and each of LifeSouth’s locations supplies blood to the region it can be found.

“We’re all about getting local blood and giving local blood locally,” Patterson said. “Blood you give here will stay here.”

Patterson said that each donation of blood is first sent through a rigorous battering of health tests before it’s sent to hospitals like OPMC. Blood donations have risen since the numbers seen at the start of the pandemic, but LifeSouth’s numbers are still 20% lower than its pre-pandemic donations.

“A lot of people don’t realize how big the need is for our community,” Patterson said. “We want people to know we’re all in this together. Just like getting a COVID-19 vaccine, donating blood is a great way to positively impact the local community.”

Anyone interested can go to one of LifeSouth’s locations or one of its bloodmobile with a valid government-issued form of identification. Masks are required to donate. Patterson said there’s an interview process first with technicians to make sure the donor is safe and feeling well and then there’s a 10-to-15-minute donation period.

After a quick pinch of the needle, patients are given a drink and some snacks for the duration of the donation. They’re sent on their way after that and they can feel great knowing they just saved three lives with their one donation, according to Patterson.

“The need for blood is constant and our hospitals and our community need blood now,” she said. “It takes about 45 minutes all together and literally saves lives.”

To review LifeSouth’s bloodmobile schedule, visit lifesouth.org.

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