Now more than ever blood donations are needed to ensure an adequate supply for Central Valley residents. As the coronavirus outbreak continues to evolve, blood donation appointments have been cancelled, creating a severe shortage of donated blood which could jeopardize the lives of thousands of hospital patients.
But Visalians are answering the call. According to the Visalia Blood Center, it has been so busy with walk-ins that it is, temporarily, not taking appointments.
“It’s been busy, busy, busy for the last two weeks,” said the office assistant at the center.
The Visalia Donor Center is located at 2245 West Caldwell and walk-ins are encouraged. The center is open from 9am to 6pm Monday – Friday, and 9am – 3pm on Saturday. For more information you can call 559 302-1300 or visit the Central California Blood Center website.
There are no blood centers in Kings County, but the three in the City of Fresno service the county.
Assemblymember Rudy Salas has also answered the call to donate blood.
“I know that our community in the Valley will rise to meet the occasion of these difficult times,” said Assemblymember Salas. “Our local hospitals are facing a huge shortage of blood donations. As a community, it is important that we work with one another and encourage our friends and family to donate blood so that we can save lives here in the Valley and throughout California.”
The call for donations came on the heels of the COVID-19 outbreak as residents were hesitant about the safety of donating and as events were cancelled due to college campuses closing and companies working from home. In Southern California there have been 260 blood drives cancelled in just one week, resulting in an estimated 9,000 fewer donations.
Nevertheless, The Central California Blood Center continues to conduct blood drives all around Tulare County while practicing social distancing. In the last week it conducted blood drives in Springville and Three Rivers. To find the next drive consult their website or Facebook page.
According to the Central California Blood Center website, “Here in the Central Valley, we embrace the uniqueness of each person while working together to make it a home for all. A big part of that has been sharing our blood with local people who need it most, from accident and burn victims, to patients battling cancer or receiving organ transplants. To help make sure there’s an adequate supply of blood is available for your family, friends, and neighbors your donation is needed at one of our convenient centers or one of the many mobile blood drives held every day around the Central Valley.”
Donating Blood is a simple process
A photo ID is required to register and there is a mini-physical and interview. Then you are ready to go!
The mini-physical consists of checking your pulse, blood pressure, temperature and iron level. In the confidential interview, a trained interviewer will ask questions about your general health and medical history, as well as questions concerning risk behaviors, foreign travel and other subjects. Your mini-physical and interview are conducted to ensure that giving blood is healthy for you and that your blood is as safe as possible. All information gathered during the physical and interview is kept strictly confidential.
The collection of a unit, about one pint of blood takes about 15 minutes. You may feel a small pinch when the needle is inserted, but most donors do not feel any pain for the duration of the donation. Once a unit has been collected, additional small tubes of blood will be collected for laboratory tests. All blood collection equipment is sterile and used only once.
After your donation, you can enjoy some refreshments to help replenish your fluids. At this time, you have the option of scheduling your next donation appointment. After you’re done with relaxing and refreshments, you can resume your normal daily activities.
With the recent closure of restaurants and bars, the Central California Blood Center reiterates that blood collection activities are not considered mass gatherings. Rather, they are controlled events conducted using appropriate infection controls intended to assure the safety of the blood, donors and staff.
In order to limit the amount of people in donor centers and to abide by social distancing rules, only donors are allowed to enter the centers. Any additional family members or children who are not donating are asked to wait outside.
All donors are screened to ensure they are feeling well. Individuals should not donate blood if they are feeling ill. Each donor is given a temperature check as well as checking for coughing, nose draining, or difficulty breathing.
In addition donors are informed:
- Blood centers follow appropriate infection control standards of donor rooms and mobile buses, which include sanitation of donor waiting rooms and donation chairs.
- There is no known risk of transmission of COVID-19 through the blood donation process or from blood transfusions.
- There is no intrinsic risk to the safety of the blood supply, but there is risk to the availability of blood for patients in need because of an increase in canceled donation appointments and blood drives.
- Blood donation is not a mass gathering or social event. Individuals who are healthy and eligible to donate are strongly encouraged to do so in order to maintain an available blood supply.