We asked, and northern Colorado residents answered. Garth Englund Blood Center (GEBC) has had an amazing response to its requests for blood donations during the pandemic.
Kaitlin Zobel, blood donor recruiter for GEBC, says that in early April, UCHealth Poudre Valley Hospital shipped 136 units of blood, total, to UCHealth Medical Center of the Rockies in Loveland, UCHealth Memorial Hospital in Colorado Springs, and University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora.
“Each unit saves up to two lives,” Zobel says. “So that 136 units means about 272 patients were impacted. Plus, even with all that sharing, we are still above target inventory for all blood types and products. The blood center and northern Colorado community are saving lives across 150 miles of Colorado.”
To provide perspective on how much the community has stepped up to help during this time, Zobel offers these numbers. “GEBC saw 205 individuals onsite the last week of March. For comparison, GEBC saw a total of 145 individuals the first week of February prior to the outbreak ramping up in Colorado.”
GEBC is still hosting blood drives in the community but is respecting physical distancing by limiting appointments. For individual appointments, the center is booked through April. “We look forward to begin scheduling new donors in early May. We’ve had a large number of calls and are working to get back to everyone as soon as possible.”
A new way to help: convalescent plasma.
GEBC is now accepting convalescent plasma donations. People who have fully recovered from COVID-19 have special antibodies in their plasma that can help treat others currently critically ill with the virus. This promising treatment is described in an article from UCHealth Today, “Critically ill Evergreen man first in Colorado to receive ‘convalescent plasma’ to help fight COVID-19.”
Zobel says, “Right now, you must have proof of a positive COVID-19 test to qualify to make this donation. The FDA is working on a test to qualify those who believe they had the virus but didn’t have access to testing. We are hopeful the FDA will have this test completed soon, but we do not have a timeline.”
Anyone who believes they qualify to donate convalescent plasma can still contact GEBC. Email or call: Kaitlin.Zobel@uchealth.org or 970.495.8987. For more details about GEBC’s process for evaluating potential donors, visit bit.ly/GEBC-convalescent-plasma.
Thank you, northern Colorado, for answering the call for blood donations. Please continue to donate as much as you can.