BUCKHANNON — Blood has always been a precious commodity, but donations have been particularly scarce lately due to the pandemic. That’s why Vitalant’s Account Manager and Donor Recruitment Representative Rachel Bennett was excited when St. Joseph’s Hospital and the Rotary Club of Buckhannon-Upshur asked her to organize a local Blood Donation Drive.
The collaboration held two very successful drives on June 16 and June 25 at Holy Rosary Catholic Church in Buckhannon. According to Lisa Wharton of St. Joseph’s Hospital, the two-day total reached 123 donors. The collected units of blood are vital to the supply of area hospitals and will assist cancer patients, accident and burn victims, as well as heart surgery and organ transplant patients.
As an added benefit to the donors, free testing was also included for antibodies to SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. More information is available at Vitalant.org/antibodytest and results will be available to donors in two weeks from the date of collection.
Bennett said blood drives have been limited lately due to the pandemic and all of the social distancing and cleaning guidelines that Vitalant must adhere to while collecting donations. She estimated that her organization has lost approximately 5,000 units of blood as a result of canceled events. Bennett explained that Vitalant is the sole provider of blood and blood products like platelets and plasma for St. Joseph’s Hospital and United Hospital Center. She emphasized, “It is super important. One donation saves three lives.”
According to Bennett, “It’s important to know there is no human substitute for blood. If you talk to any physician, they will tell you that they can give patients every kind of life saving medicine, but if they need blood, there is no substitute for it.”
One unit of blood is viable for 42 days and everyone who is feeling well and healthy can donate every 56 days, or up to six times per year. Vitalant encourages donors to get on a blood program and maximize their donation opportunities. Bennett concluded, “Two hours of your time is going to save three lives and I don’t think you can put a price on that.”
UHC conducts a Blood Donation Drive the first Wednesday of every other month, with the next coming up on August 5. No other drives are currently scheduled in the area, so Bennett encourages any interested person or organization to contact her about setting up a blood drive by calling (412) 209-7241 or emailing her at [email protected]