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COVID-19 causes blood shortages as many drives are canceled

The impact of COVID-19 continues to affect the local blood supply, as canceled blood drives throughout the coming months are causing a significant drop in donations.

According to a news release from LifeSouth, many businesses, schools and churches that typically host drives with LifeSouth remain closed during this time. The news release said the decrease in blood drives has resulted in a low community blood supply, while the need for blood has rapidly increased as hospitals resume elective surgeries and continue treatments for cancer, other diseases (like sickle cell anemia) and daily traumas.

LifeSouth needs donors of all blood types and is in critical need of Type O and B donors.

“We are so grateful to our donors who came in to donate as our community was first impacted by COVID-19, and we ask blood donors and those who have not given before to continue to help,” said Brite Whitaker, LifeSouth’s director of outreach in a news release. “We want to make sure the blood is on the shelves when our local patients need it most.”

LifeSouth is encouraging all eligible donors to book an appointment to donate as soon as possible to ensure safe and stable blood supply is available for patients. LifeSouth Community Blood Centers is the nonprofit community blood bank that serves our local hospitals such as Baptist Medical centers, Jackson Hospital, East Alabama. Medical Center, Flowers Hospital, Southeast Health and WellStar West Georgia Medical Center.

The news release said LifeSouth has remained fully operational throughout the COVID-19 pandemic as an essential service provider and assures local donors it is safe to donate blood. COVID-19 does not pose any known risk to blood donors during the donation process or from attending blood drives. The organization is taking precautions to maintain a safe environment for donors and staff in the donor centers and bloodmobiles.

The news release said blood donors are needed every day, and anyone who is in good health is encouraged to donate.

LifeSouth’s bloodmobiles will also be out at many locations in the coming weeks.  All donor centers and bloodmobiles are enforcing social distancing between donors, implementing heightened sanitation protocols and encouraging donors to wait in their cars until their appointment.

To find a nearby drive, visit www.lifesouth.org.

According to LifeSouth, donors must be at least 16 or 17 with parental permission, weigh a minimum of 110 pounds and be in good health. A photo ID is also needed.

For additional information, call LifeSouth at (888)795-2707.