Photo via Associated Press
Every two seconds in the U.S., someone is in need of blood or platelets. But amid the coronavirus pandemic, many blood drives have been canceled, and the demand for blood donations has “significantly increased,” according to the American Red Cross.
Vitalant, a blood donation network, will team up with the Roosevelt Collection Shops, 1023 S. Delano Court, this Saturday, July 18 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. to cater to the demand.
Holly Seese, communications and marketing lead for Vitalant-Illinois, said her organization normally hosts around five blood drives a day across Chicago, but due to the pandemic, it has decreased to about two a week.
Manny Apostol, a South Loop resident and teacher, said he is ready to donate blood despite the pandemic.
Apostol is a “veteran blood donor,” but with many locations temporarily shut down he said it has been hard for him to continuously donate blood.
“This is like an easy, super simple thing,” Apostol said. “Walk in, walk out and then do it, and it becomes a very normal thing for people to do.”
To ensure the safety of donors and medical workers, Seese said everyone donating is required to wear a mask at all times, all objects will be wiped down after being touched and donors will be six feet apart while donating, or while in waiting areas.
In addition to social distancing measures, Seese said everyone who donates will receive a complimentary coronavirus, or COVID-19, antibody test on all successful donations, so patients can know if they have or had the virus at any point.
She said people do not have to worry about receiving blood from a donor who was infected with the coronavirus.
“It’s been proven you can’t get coronavirus by the actual blood donation process itself,” Seese said.
Apostol said he is encouraging younger people to donate because he is often surrounded by older folks and would like it to be a “trend” among younger people.
Blood donations are needed regularly for people who live with daily health conditions such as undergoing cancer treatments or having sickle cell disease, Seese said.
“It’s not the huge catastrophe you think of, it’s the personal catastrophes that happen daily,” she said.
Shannon Ridgeway, general manager of the Roosevelt Collection Shops, said she plans on donating blood while helping out for the drive.
She said this is the collection’s first time hosting a blood drive, but she is excited to give back to communities in dire need of blood.
Apostol said, in short, donating blood is a good thing to do.
“Everyone’s afraid of the needle,” Apostol said. “I don’t even know how they haven’t been stabbed with a needle up to this point … so just calm down. It’s nothing. It’s a very simple process. You’re in and out 30 minutes.”
Blood donors who are interested in donating can register at vitalant.org with group code 995E or call 877-258-4825.