Red Cross blood drives begin Friday
Regional Red Cross officials are hopeful that a trio of blood drives in the Rogue Valley this month will help meet hospital demand as well as lure back past volunteers to regular donation schedules.
Coinciding with April being National Volunteer Month, the donation opportunities, slated for Medford and Ashland, kick off Friday at Medford’s Eastwood Baptist Church, 675 N. Keene Way Drive.
Friday’s blood drive, the first of three events to “get the blood flowing” on post-pandemic donation efforts, will allow people to make appointments or walk in unannounced, said Rebecca O’Rourke, donor recruiter for the Red Cross Pacific Northwest region.
At the peak of pandemic, blood drives were by appointment only to help accommodate social distancing. With restrictions winding down, and blood donation needs on the rise, walk-ins will be accommodated at all upcoming events.
O’Rourke said staffing shortages — making for fewer staffed blood drives — and a drop in donations overall had cumulatively caused supply concerns.
“Our staffing is so strained, we can’t be running blood drives with only 10 people showing up,” she said.
“But it’s also extremely important that we reach the collection capacity at the blood drives we are holding to be able to meet patient needs. Unfortunately, seeing lower turnouts than normal, along with holding fewer blood drives, could impact our ability to provide blood to patients in need.”
As of Wednesday, Friday’s blood drive had fewer than nine donors signed up, with a minimum of 21 needed for the event. O’Rourke said the Red Cross was asking donors who were regulars prior to the pandemic to consider “coming back as soon as they can.”
The second and third events are slated for Ashland (April 11) and Medford (April 21).
O’Rourke said all donors who sign up will be tested for COVID antibodies, which is a common request among donors.
“During COVID, if we found donors who had the antibodies, we were reaching out for antibody plasma for patients. Right now, it’s more about knowing who has the positive antibodies in case we need further study,” she said.
“And a lot of people do like knowing whether they have the antibodies or not. They like to know, when they got sick last month and thought it was probably COVID, whether it really was.
To sign up, and to save personal data from blood donations, download the Red Cross Blood Donor App via smartphones or text “BLOODAPP” to 90999. Using the app, donors can set up a profile, learn their blood type, antibody status and see where their blood donation is sent.
Donors can make a donation every 56 days.
O’Rourke said things aren’t dire yet, but Red Cross officials are trying to avoid such a scenario.
“We’re not crying wolf and saying our supplies are critical,” she noted. “But if the trend we’re seeing continues, where we’re not collecting enough to manage the demand, it could become critical in the months to come.”
Reach freelance writer Buffy Pollock at email@example.com.
Friday, April 8 (11 a.m. to 4 p.m.), at Eastwood Baptist Church, 675 N. Keene Way Dr., Medford 97504
Monday, April 11 (11 a.m. to 4 p.m.), at First Baptist Church of Ashland, 2004 Siskiyou Blvd., Ashland 97520
Thursday, April 21 (11 a.m. to 4 p.m.), at Bricktown Brewing Pint Fest, at Medford Donor Center 97504
For more information, call 1-800-RED CROSS or visit online, redcrossblood.org/pnw or facebook.com/RedCrossBlood