One way to help during this pandemic is to donate blood or plasma to help avoid potential shortages due to coronavirus. Many donation centers have had to cancel walk-in and blood drive donation options to manage donor flow so they can abide by the CDC Cornonavirus (COVID-19) guidelines. It is critical for healthy, eligible individuals to donate blood during this time to avoid another public health crisis as every two seconds, someone in the United States needs blood, and one pint of whole donated blood can save up to three lives! Donation centers across the country are vigilant in sanitation and practicing social distancing during scheduled donations so that healthy, eligible individuals can safely donate. Our Director of Operations and Business Development, Shannon Mauler, donated blood for the first time on April 21, 2020. Read about her experience below.
"I am so grateful to the healthcare workers who put themselves at risk to save lives every day the pandemic continues. I wanted to help in some way during this crisis but was not sure how. I did a little online research and found that there is a significant reduction in life-saving blood and plasma donations across the country due to the pandemic. I had never donated blood before, but it seemed like a relatively easy way to contribute. Through America's Blood Centers location finder, I located the nearest donation center to my home office Vitalant. I was able to create a personal donor account online and easily schedule an appointment (they also offer to schedule as a guest without creating an account). I quickly received a confirmation email with clear pre-donation instructions, clarity on the process, and a link to the Fast Track Health History questionnaire that I could fill out online the day of my donation to save 20 minutes during the appointment. It also noted that in alignment with the updated CDC guidelines, beginning April 17, donors are required to wear face coverings to their Vitalant donations.
As per the instructions in my email, on the day of the donation, I had a healthy, low-fat meal within two hours before my donation and drank lots of water. I filled out and printed the Fast Track Health History, grabbed my homemade face covering, and headed to the donation center. When I arrived, all the Vitalant staff were wearing face coverings and gloves. I was greeted immediately by a friendly representative who verified that I had an appointment, took my temperature, and had me sign the check-in form. Then I was quickly escorted in a room where she took my health history form and completed my health screening. She did a hemoglobin finger prick to check my red blood cell count, took my blood pressure, and took my picture for my donor record. She took my temperature one more time and then escorted me to the donation area.
Here I met Stacy, the donor care specialist who drew my blood, and she was excellent! First, she asked me if it was my first time donating, since it was she verbally walked me through everything she was doing. She found a vein and had me squeeze a stress ball three times and then hold it. Once she verified it would be a good vein, she thoroughly cleaned the area for 30 seconds, marked it with a small straw by pushing the straw into my arm until it made a mark and then inserted the needle where the straw mark was, I barely felt a thing.
She instructed me to squeeze the stress ball every five seconds lightly until the pint bag was filled, which took less than 10 minutes. All the staff were friendly and chatted with me during this time. I was highly impressed by the sanitation steps I saw each staff member take, donors were over 6 feet from one another and wore face coverings. I felt safe during the donation. Once complete, Stacy removed the needle, placed gauze over the area, and had me hold it with pressure while raising my arm above my head. Once she was confident that I was no longer bleeding, she wrapped the area with the wrap color of my choice, blue. She provided written post-donation instructions along with verbal instructions. Then I was escorted to a small resting area where they offered me beverages and snacks and asked me to wait 15 minutes before I drove to allow my body to adjust to my donation.
The next day, I was able to log into my donor account and find out my blood type using the Wellness tab. This tab also recorded my hemoglobin, temperature, pulse rate, and blood pressure on that day. Overall, it was a great experience, and I was happy that I was able to do something that could help during this time of uncertainty. I will be making regular donations moving forward!"w
Update from Shannon, "Today I received a text message that let me know my donation was sent to a hospital to help a patient needing a transfusion. It was great to hear that the donation would help someone!"