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MARY MEAUX — Blood donations needed as near critical shortages grip region

The need for blood donations typically peaks between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, but this season is especially bad.

On Wednesday, LifeShare Blood Center in Beaumont was down to a one-day supply, Tiffany Ybarra, account manager at LifeShare in Beaumont, said after looking at the 10 a.m. inventory.

The need has been like this since around Thanksgiving.

“At one point we were at half a day. Those were some scary days,” Ybarra said. “That’s what we would call an emergency situation, and we haven’t seen that in over a year. We got it back up to a day.”

The need in our community is echoed across the nation.

“This year is even more difficult. We have a nationwide shortage because of the virus (COVID-19),” Ybarra said of the canceled blood drives and overall hesitancy of churches to host the event.

“We have had two churches cancel blood drives this week,” she said. “It’s even more of a challenge because schools are out and some schools are not having blood drives.”

Ybarra said there are hundreds of normal blood drives scheduled during the year; now they are hearing some of the ones normally scheduled are not having them.

There are some perks to donating besides the obvious. Donors are being tested for the COVID antibody. There is a current need for convalescent plasma — donations from people who have had COVID and are 14 days symptom free.

But right now, both types of donations are needed.

A blood shortage is a serious event. It means:

  • A mom giving birth may not get the blood she needs if she had a difficult labor
  • A car accident victim may not get the blood products they need if they have serious injuries
  • A firefighter may not get the blood they need if injured on the job
  • A cancer patient may not get the blood they need to get them through treatment.

“Those things happen every day. Not to mention if there is a big traumatic event,” Ybarra said. “People are still having surgeries. A bleeding ulcer, that is a major user of blood; the patient can use many units of blood.”

No particular blood type is being sought at this time as all blood types are needed.

How to donate

You can walk-in at the LifeShare office at 4305 Laurel in Beaumont, call 409-838-5289 or go online to lifeshare.org and make an appointment or find a blood drive in your community.

“When you donate blood, you give a patient a gift of another holiday,” Ybarra said.

Mary Meaux is a news reporter at The Port Arthur News. She can be reached at mary.meaux@panews.com