The American Red Cross has scheduled several blood drives over the next three weeks in the Twin Counties to help meet urgent needs caused by the massive winter storms that have affected much of the nation.
The record-breaking cold and winter storms have forced the cancellation of more than 10,000 blood and platelet donations in February in parts of the U.S., according to a statement by the American Red Cross.
As a result, the organization is urging healthy people, especially those with type O blood, to give now to ensure blood products are available for patient emergencies when help cannot wait.
When winter weather forces a blood drive cancellation, the effect is more than just a canceled appointment — it means less blood products available for patient emergencies here and across the country, the press release said.
Tina Rocco knows firsthand how important it is to have blood on hospital shelves. After welcoming baby Gemma by cesarean section, she began hemorrhaging badly and was rushed back into the operating room.
“I was later told it was several pints of blood and an amazing doctor that saved my life,” Rocco said in the statement from the American Red Cross. “That allowed me to hold my first daughter and go home all together as a family of three.”
Before that day, Rocco had not known anyone who needed blood transfusions. Now, the grateful mother says, “You truly never know when you or someone you love might need it.”
To help meet the urgent need, several blood donation events are slated in the Twin Counties.
An American Red Cross blood drive will be held from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday in the Continuing Education Building at Nash Community College.
Three other blood drives will be held next week in Rocky Mount. One is scheduled from noon to 3 p.m. on March 3 at Braswell Memorial Library. Parkwood Baptist Church will host an event from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. on March 4. That church is at 1731 Hunter Hill Road. Another blood donation event also will be held from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. on March 4 at the West Mount Volunteer Fire Department at 7955 West Mount Drive.
In addition to these events, two blood donation opportunities will be held next week in Nashville. The Sandy Cross United Methodist Church will host a blood drive from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. on March 1 at 3725 Sandy Cross Road in Nashville. The Town of Nashville also will host an event from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on March 6 at the Nashville Town Council Chambers at 114 W. Church St.
Two blood donation events are being held this week in Edgecombe County and one is being held in March. From 1:30-5 p.m. Tuesday, blood donations will be collected at the Braswell Center at 1500 Western Blvd. in Tarboro. Another event will be held from 12:30-4:30 p.m. Thursday at the Edgecombe County Administration Building at 201 St. Andrew St. in Tarboro. A third event will be held from 2:45-7 p.m. at the St. James United Methodist Church at 211 E. St. James St. in Tarboro.
Special protocols are in place for donors at these events because of COVID-19.
The Red Cross is testing blood, platelet and plasma donations for COVID-19 antibodies. The test may indicate if the donor’s immune system has produced antibodies to the coronavirus, regardless of whether a person has developed COVID-19 symptoms. Red Cross antibody tests will be helpful to identify people who have COVID-19 antibodies and may now help current coronavirus patients in need of convalescent plasma transfusions, according to the press release.
Convalescent plasma is a type of blood donation collected from COVID-19 survivors that have antibodies that may help patients who are actively fighting the virus. Plasma from whole blood donations that test positive for high levels of COVID-19 antibodies may be used to help COVID-19 patients, the statement said.
COVID-19 antibody test results will be available within one to two weeks in the Red Cross Blood Donor App or donor portal at RedCrossBlood.org. A positive antibody test result does not confirm infection or immunity. The Red Cross is not testing donors to diagnose illness, referred to as a diagnostic test.
To protect the health and safety of Red Cross staff and donors, it is important that people postpone donations if they do not feel well or believe they may be ill with COVID-19. Each Red Cross blood drive and donation center follows high standards of safety and infection control, and additional precautions — including temperature checks, social distancing and face coverings for donors and staff — have been implemented to help protect the health of all in attendance.
Donors are asked to schedule an appointment prior to arriving at blood drives and are required to wear a face covering or mask while at the drive, in alignment with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention public guidance, the statement said.
To help ensure life-saving patient care is not affected, people are urged to make appointments to donate in the coming days and weeks by downloading the Red Cross Blood Donor App, by visiting RedCrossBlood.org, by calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or by enabling the Blood Donor Skill on any Amazon Echo device.