A year after adding a summer blood drive date, the Blood Bank of Delmarva is coming back again on Tuesday at 9 a.m. in the Roland E. Powell Convention Center parking lot on 40th Street.
“It’s exciting for us,” said Blood Bank Communications Specialist Tony Prado. “That was unprecedented last year, getting into the convention center simply because they had room for us. In years past, that wasn’t always possible. That’s been a silver lining of the pandemic. We’re happy that we’re able to come back. “
The blood drive aims to take 155 whole blood donors and 25 double red cell donors. As of May 28, the double red cell reservations were almost full, but 40 spots remained for whole blood donations.
Blood donations are another service that has taken a hefty hit because of the pandemic. Prado said towards the beginning of the pandemic, donations were down by as much as 57 percent. The numbers have been recovering as donors start feeling more comfortable giving blood, but there is still room to improve.
“Some people were understandably avoiding crowds and for any number of reasons people just get off track from donating blood,” Prado said.
Compounding the issue has been the fact that high schools and colleges, which typically account for as much as a quarter of the Blood Bank’s donations, did not have students for significant portions of the last year.
“When you lose those young, healthy donors, it really hurts,” Prado said. “This year is even worse because summer comes and you’re still in the same boat. We can usually count on the schools to get us the blood we can use as a reserve for the summer. But we can only get it from the generosity of people — we can’t manufacture blood outside the body.”
Prado emphasized that donors are safe giving blood. The Blood Bank is stringently sanitizing donor beds and screening donors and staff alike for any signs of illness. These are the same basic measures that have existed since before the pandemic, but the Blood Bank has stepped up its responsiveness as a result of it.
The blood donated to the Blood Bank goes to each of the 19 hospitals in on the Delmarva Peninsula.
Coming twice a year to Ocean City is something the Blood Bank has wanted to do for some time, Prado said, but it’s historically been a challenge to secure time and space during the busy summer months. Every year the organization holds a January blood drive in Ocean City.
The future isn’t certain as to whether they will continue coming out twice a year, but Prado said the Blood Bank certainly would like to.
“It’s something that we’ve wanted to but weren’t able to because Ocean City is one of the great beach towns on the East Coast, Prado said. “It’s a destination. Originally, they wouldn’t have room for us. We’re very appreciative of the fact that the Town of Ocean City, who is a great partner to team up with, is bringing us back. It’s a great town and the folks there are just wonderful.”
People interested in donating blood or want more information can visit https://delmarvablood.org or call 1-888-8-Blood-8.