By Karen Halfpop
If you’re planning on giving blood during the month of May, good for you. According to a news release issued by Community Blood Center of the Ozarks, reserves of blood products are at a less-than-one-day level, prompting the center to issue a critical appeal for donors.
To complicate matters, most of the organization’s mobile blood drives, scheduled for the month of May, have been cancelled or postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
That adds up to more than 3,000 donations lost in a month.
For the more than 40 area hospitals supplied with blood products and plasma solely by CBCO, the shortage could become a large problem.
“During the month of April, blood donors at our fixed site locations gave enough to get us through the first weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic,” CBCO Executive Director Anthony Roberts said in the CBCO release. “But hospital usage was down significantly during that time, and now we are really challenged as hospitals increase their blood needs. We are still experiencing multiple cancellations of previously scheduled drives this month and a critical shortage is looming.”
To head off a critical shortage, CBCO “is actively seeking and scheduling emergency blood drives” in areas outside Springfield, and strongly encouraging eligible donors to make an appointment to give.
However, CBCO finds itself competing for donors with an unlikely source: the American Red Cross.
In an email obtained by Branson Globe, Roberts reached out to Lebanon city officials and the administrator at Mercy Lebanon, regarding blood drives scheduled in that community by the American Red Cross.
In the email, Roberts states that the American Red Cross does not provide any of the blood products that are transfused in area hospitals.
That includes Mercy Lebanon, Cox Medical Center Branson, Cox South and Cox North in Springfield, Mercy Hospital in Springfield, Citizens Memorial in Bolivar, and 38 more hospitals, and an Air Medical Transport service.
In order to receive blood products from American Red Cross donors, a hospital must have a contract to obtain those products.
While CBCO is working to schedule more blood donations to supply our area hospitals, the American Red Cross has three blood drives scheduled in the Tri-Lakes area over the next two weeks, according to their website.
Roberts wants people to know that any unit of blood collected at these drives will not stay in the community.
“Blood drives with any other organization other than CBCO put area patients at risk,” Roberts said. “Unfortunately, most donors do not know this is the case.”
All blood types are needed, and eligible donors are strongly encouraged to donate.
For more information about Community Blood Center of the Ozarks blood donation, or to schedule a blood drive, visit www.cbco.org.