NEW ORLEANS — After having a huge portion of their blood donations slashed by the coronavirus pandemic, health officials reported their calls for more donors in the metro area were a success.
Officials with the Blood Center in New Orleans said Monday they had received "overwhelming turnout" and now had stable levels of blood in their inventory. The announcement comes as blood shortages are being felt around the country because of the pandemic.
The coronavirus has forced governments to close schools, which also means cancelling blood drives on high school and college campuses around the state. Blood donations from students account for roughly a quarter of the blood supply around Louisiana, according to officials.
Without those scheduled donations, Louisiana and many other states face continued shortages during a time of greater need, as more people are being hospitalized because of the virus.
In response, leaders at the Blood Center and other blood banks urged healthy individuals to donate and organize blood drives of their own.
Donors answered the call.
“We needed a boost in our blood collections and the public responded. We have seen an outpouring of citizens determined to donate and we are extremely grateful,” said Billy Weales, President and CEO of The Blood Center.
So much blood has been donated, in fact, that donors now have to schedule appointments in advance to keep the numbers of people at the center down to control social distancing.
“We need to slow down” says Dr. Tim Peterson, Medical Director of The Blood Center. “Red blood cells only have a 42 day shelf life before they expire.”
Nationally, the American Red Cross is urging healthy, eligible people to donate blood.
Cold and flu season affects the nation's blood supply maintenance every year, according to the Red Cross. The number of people eligible to give blood may continue to dwindle as more test positive for the coronavirus.