The City of Lone Tree has held blood drives for its staff in past years, but when the COVID-19 pandemic shuttered much of society and curbed the availability of blood drives last year, the city …
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The City of Lone Tree has held blood drives for its staff in past years, but when the COVID-19 pandemic shuttered much of society and curbed the availability of blood drives last year, the city changed course.
Spokeswoman Denisse Coffman said the city began holding blood drives for the general public “right smack dab in the middle” of the pandemic after staff learned that blood banks nationally were urging people to keep hosting and donating.
“We were aware of that need and we wanted to do something to help,” she said.
Since May 2020, the city has held eight blood drives in conjunction with the blood service provider Vitalant. The first one collected 67 donations and its most recent, held in March 2021, set a new record at more than 70. In total the city's blood drives have collected more than 500 donations.
Vitalant spokeswoman Liz Lambert said the pandemic cut down the number of blood drives held in a typical year.
“That's in large part because a lot of businesses are working remotely, schools shut down for a time, and even as they opened up there have been a lot of restrictions in place,” she said.
Vitalant serves 900 hospitals across 28 states, and roughly 100 hospitals in Colorado.
The need for blood donations is constant, Lambert said. People often think about car accidents or crisis events creating need for blood transfusions, but they are also required for everyday procedures and more common treatments, like for cancer or surgery.
Blood should be available before there is a demand for it, she said, one reason the dip in drives could be worrisome. Vitalant strives to have several days' supply of all blood types at all times.
“Because blood has a limited shelf life, fewer donations in any given week can hurt Vitalant's ability to meet patient needs,” she said.
In Colorado, Vitalant's goal is 450 donations a day. Right now, Lambert said there is “a critical need” for Type O donations, she said.
To donate during the pandemic, people need to be in good health and fully recovered from COVID-19 if they've had the virus, she said. Vitalant tests all donations for COVID-19 antibodies. The FDA has authorized using convalescent plasma from donations with COVID-19 antibodies to treat hospitalized patients fighting the virus, Lambert said.
Those who are vaccinated can also donate if they meet other eligibility requirements.
The city plans to continue the blood drives into the future, Coffman said. The next is May 26 at the Arts Center. More information is available at cityoflonetree.com.
“We gave them a shot and they've turned out very well,” she said. “We were just very happy to be able to help in any way.”
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