NORMAN, Okla. — With blood institutes across the country experiences shortages of blood donations, the Oklahoma Blood Institute is holding four blood drives in Norman this month.
Three of the four blood drives will be held at the 12th Ave. Recreation Center on 1701 12th Ave NE from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. on April 13, 20 and 27. The fourth one will be held at the Commons apartment complex at 1111 Oak Tree Ave from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
Heather Browne, marketing and media manager for OBI, said hundreds of blood drives across the state have been canceled in an attempt to promote social distancing, creating an urgent need for consistent blood donations. However, the need for blood donations has increased as health officials continue to treat COVID-19 cases and patients with other medical conditions.
There are nearly 203 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 12 deaths in Cleveland County as of Tuesday, according to the Oklahoma State Department of Health.
“Blood is a perishable product and we need constant donations not only to meet our community needs, but in case of local and national emergencies,” M.D., president and CEO of OBI John Armitage said in a press release,. “We urge healthy adults to donate blood so that the crucial supply can be maintained for our local patients who depend on blood products during treatment for cancer, traumatic injuries and other life-threatening conditions.”
Due to concerns of COVID-19 and in an effort to promote social distancing, OBI is instituting new measures for its upcoming blood drives in an attempt to keep donors safe. OBI has instituted additional sanitary measures, and donor center and mobile blood drives have been adapted to allow for social distancing. All staff and donors will also have their temperatures taken before entering the facility or starting work to ensure only healthy individuals are present.
Browne said OBI staff will ensure there will always be less than 10 people in the facility at all times to comply with Norman's stay at home order. Jason Olsen, parks and recreations supervisor, said the city of Norman and OBI are working together to ensure the blood drives are as safe as possible for staff and donors.
“We need to come together through community measures to try to help each other, and these blood drives are an excellent way to do that,” Olsen said. “We encourage anyone that is able to donate to make an appointment for one of these upcoming drives here in Norman.”
Browne said the upcoming blood drives will accept walk-ins, but OBI is strongly encouraging residents interested in donating blood to make an appointment to ensure as few people in their facilities as possible.
“We're doing everything we possibly can to keep people safe and to keep donors far away from each other,” Browne said. “We know people are understandably nervous about leaving their house, but we have a strong need for consistent blood donations.”
In addition to upcoming blood drives, OBI has also partnered with the Oklahoma State Medical Association for a new experimental initiative to seek convalescent plasma from patients who have recovered from COVID-19. Browne said there is hope that gathering convalescent plasma from recovered patients could help with current COVID-19 patients who struggling with the virus.
OBI is asking for recovered COVID-19 patients to sign up for Oklahoma's registry of recovered patients at my.bio-linked.org and volunteer for convalescent plasma donation. If a patient qualifies for the program, OBI will get with the patient to make preparations for the donation at hospital partner sites.
To qualify, patients must have documented confirmation of a COVID-19 diagnosis, present negative results for the virus and be symptom-free for 14 days prior to the donation.
“We’re excited to play our part in ensuring Oklahomans have access to all treatment options, including convalescent plasma,” President and CEO of Oklahoma Blood Institute John Armitage said in a press release. “As Oklahoma’s community blood supplier, we can quickly collect donor information and work with our local hospital partners to ensure any Oklahoman who wants to help a neighbor has that opportunity.”
To make an appointment for any of the upcoming OBI blood drives in Norman, visit www.obi.org or call 1-877-340-8777.
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