Emergency blood drive underway in Birmingham as donations dip during COVID-19 crisis

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — As churches, schools and businesses shutter their doors in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, donations to local blood banks have declined.

The national and local blood supply has fallen short and the University of Alabama at Birmingham has partnered with LifeSouth Community Blood Centers and the American Red Cross for a multiple-day emergency blood drive.

Blake Lee, a spokesperson for LifeSouth, said that although elective medical procedures have been stopped at this time, there is still a great demand for blood due to trauma cases. He estimated that his organization is “hundreds upon hundreds” of donations short at this time and that it is largely due to school and church closures.

“With them closing down or slowing down, that pretty much put us in emergency need because we’re so used to having regular donors at this time,” Lee said. “So we’re trying to make up for that so we can meet the needs of a lot of the hospitals here in Birmingham.”

According to a news release from UAB, “blood products are used during surgery, transplantation, trauma care, difficult pregnancies and cancer treatment. It is not unheard-of for a single patient to require as many as 100 units.”

The emergency blood drives will take place now through March 27 at UAB Hospital’s North Pavilion at the intersection of 18th Street and Sixth Avenue South at the times below:

  • Friday, March 20, 9:30 am.-5:30 p.m., LifeSouth
  • Monday, March 23, 9:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m., LifeSouth
  • Tuesday, March 24, 9:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m., LifeSouth
  • Wednesday, March 25, 9 a.m.-4 p.m., Red Cross
  • Thursday, March 26, 9 a.m.-4 p.m., Red Cross
  • Friday, March 27, 9 a.m.-4 p.m., Red Cross

If you would like to donate, you are required to schedule an appointment online by visiting either the website for the American Red Cross or Lifesouth Community Blood Centers. The purpose of the appointments is to limit the number of people donating at one time for social distancing purposes.

According to a UAB news release, the donation process is safe and staff are “appropriately disinfecting all surfaces at the donor locations. The process takes an estimated 45 minutes with the blood collection portion taking less than 20 minutes and you can donated blood up to six times each year.


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