Blood Bank of Delmarva teaming with hospitals to increase donations

STANTON – With chronic blood shortages as the COVID-19 pandemic continues, Blood Bank of Delmarva has launched a drive to increase donations as the holidays arrive.

There’s a looming danger as winter approaches, according to BBD, as potential brief shortages of years past have been replaced by current long-running concerns due to the coronavirus.

To meet the demand, BBD announced Tuesday it is teaming with hospital systems including ChristianaCare, Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children and the Wilmington VA Medical Center to promote the push to increase blood donations.

Also, BBD has added Sunday hours every other weekend at its Dover center at 221 Saulsbury Road and Christiana site at 100 Hygeia Drive in Newark. The next Sunday availability is on Nov. 22.

The loss of community blood drives due to COVID-19 has taken away a source of approximately 40% of BBD’s collections, according to a news release. The drives were often organized by high schools, colleges, offices and community groups that have had to cancel during the pandemic, the BBD said.

Mobile blood donations have dropped to just 43% of pre-pandemic levels, the BBD said.

According to BBD, 350 donations are needed daily to meet Delmarva health care system needs ranging from trauma victims to newborn babies and their mothers to cancer patients.

The loss of community blood drives due to COVID-19 has taken away a source of approximately 40% of BBD’s collections, the organization said.. The drives were often organized by high schools, colleges, offices and community groups that have had to cancel during the pandemic.

“The entire foundation of the way people donate blood has changed,” said Andrea H. Cefarelli, senior executive director of recruitment & marketing for BBD.

“The convenience factor of walking down the hallway while at work, getting out of class or donating after religious services is gone. Instead, we have to rely on people taking the extra step of proactively seeking out a place to donate.

“So far, that isn’t happening at the level we need. In normal times, announcing a blood emergency would create a short-term increase in blood donations, but this will not solve this particularly difficult shortage long-term.

“This is an incredibly challenging time for our communities.”

BBD’s partners all stressed the need for a greater reserve of blood Tuesday.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has greatly impacted how and where people can give blood, and the need for blood donations is as critical as it has ever been,” said Dr. George Tzanis, MD, chief of staff of the Wilmington VA Medical Center.

“A sufficient blood supply at local health care facilities is vital in providing high-quality, life-saving care to patients. We implore all who are able to give blood to do so and save a life.”

According to Sherry Sixta, M.D., FACS, associate director of Trauma at ChristianaCare, “Throughout this pandemic, we are seeing alarming low levels of blood supply across Delaware and our region.

“To address the current shortage, we are asking all members of our community who are able to donate blood to please do so.

“When you donate blood, you are saving lives and helping our neighbors who are dependent on the generosity of others during this difficult time.”

Blood donations can be scheduled online at donate.bbd.org. Information on scheduling a group blood drive is available at delmarvablood.org, along with details on precautions taken to help prevent the person-to-person spread of COVID-19.