Local blood drives aim to replenish depleted blood bank inventory

Inventory and product levels among the Community Blood Bank of NWPA and WNY and its partner hospitals have fallen nearly as sharply as the temperatures over the past few weeks.

Record snowfall in Pennsylvania’s Erie County is responsible for the loss of approximately 300 blood donations to the Community Blood Bank, and the cancellation of an area blood drive earlier this month resulted in the loss of more than 75 donors. This occurred on top of an existing 30 percent eduction in donor turnout since Dec. 26 due to severe winter weather, which also resulted in the closure of the Erie Donor Center that same day.

“The week between Christmas and New Year’s is always a difficult time for us, since so many people are traveling and spending time with family,” said Jennifer Brownlee, community outreach manager for the blood bank. “We planned additional incentives to help bring people in, but Mother Nature had other plans.”

“A percentage decrease such as this has happened in the past, but it’s rare,” she added. “Typically we start getting concerned when we see a donor drop of about 20 percent. With this particular decrease exceeding that by an additional 10 percent we went into appeal status, particularly with our hospitals, for them to mobilize in the hope that we can start to see things rebounding in the next couple weeks.”

To help the blood bank and its associate hospitals rebound from this shortage an emergency blood drive has been scheduled for Monday at UPMC Chautauqua WCA, 207 Foote Ave. in Jamestown, from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the auditorium.

“WCA is one of our partner hospitals,” Brownlee said. “They depend on the blood that we provide to them, so when we put out a call for support they were eager to help us put something together to help boost our inventory again. Our priority is to make sure all our partner hospitals get all the blood they need, so events like the emergency blood drive on Monday are very important to rebound from this (shortage).”

Additionally, a community blood drive is being held today from 8 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Riverwalk Center — 15 S. Main St. in Jamestown. Walk-ins are welcome and all donors will receive a Community Blood Bank T-shirt.

January is also National Blood Donor Month, a time to bring overall awareness of making life-saving blood donations, and to increase people’s interest for giving to those in the greatest need within the local region.

Individuals are eligible to give blood if it has been 56 days since their last donation; they are at least 17 years of age (16 with parental consent); weigh at least 110 pounds; have not received a tattoo or body piercing in the past 12 months; are in good general health and do not have a cold or the flu.

They must also have a valid photo ID in order to register. Prior to donating, those giving blood should eat a good, solid meal and drink at least 18 ounces of water.