AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – Employees with Shepeard Community Blood Centers say fewer people are donating blood this time of the year. They also say blood is very essential right now considering the COVID-19 pandemic and non-essential surgeries have resumed at local hospitals.
“People are too scared to donate honestly,” said Kayla Dunbar, a Recruiter with Shepeard Blood.
Donors Allison McGahee and Alexandra Walker are not.
“Hospitals are being filled to high capacity so it’s good to able to save three lives in the community,” said McGahee.
Everyone who donates blood at a Shepeard Community Blood Centers or at one of their blood drives is pre-screened. The staff makes sure no one has been around anyone that has COVID-19. Temperatures are checked and everything at a blood center or drive is sanitized.
“We follow every procedure by the CDC. We also recommend they donate convalescent plasma because it can save people’s lives who have COVID,” said Dunbar.
Dr. Roni Bollag, a Pathologist at AU Health explained, “To see if they have antibodies to COVID-19 virus. Therefore if they find donors that qualify as potential convalescent plasma donors, they can then contact them and see if they’re willing to donate convalescent for medical for therapy in the hospital.”
During the blood drive at Revivify Church Thursday, more than 70 people donated and all the blood will be tested for COVID-19 antibodies. The test shows if you have previously had COVID-19.
“We’ve had over 80 patients that have enrolled in our trial for convalescent plasma. Lately, it’s been averaging two to five per day that are getting plasma. They usually get it in two doses about 12 hours apart,” said Dr. Bollag.
Walker said, “It’s important to know how much immunity is in the community right now like how many people have the antibodies for coronavirus.”
To donate blood to Shepeard you must weigh more than 110 pounds, be 16 years or older. If you are 16, your parents must sign a consent form and all donors must meet all the health requirements. All of the blood stays local and is distributed to 20 hospitals in the CSRA and recruiter Kayla Dunbar says you don’t need to be afraid of the needle.
She said, “I have a friend who had a baby that was in the NICU weighing one pound ten ounces and he had to have 58 blood products. So if that little baby, weighing a pound and the length of a pencil can do it, there is no reason you can’t.”
Shepeard’s new hours are:
· Augusta Center (1533 Wrightsboro Road, Augusta): Monday through Thursday: 9:00 AM – 7:00 PM; Friday and Saturday: 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM; Sunday – closed
· Evans Center (4329 Washington Road, Evans): Monday through Friday: 8:00 AM – 8:00 PM; Saturday: 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM; Sunday: Noon – 5:00 PM
· Aiken Center (353 Fabian Drive, Aiken): Tuesday through Saturday: 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM; Sunday and Monday: closed
Interested in donated convalescent plasma? Click or tap here.