Donors critically needed at local blood center

Jerrie Whiteley
Herald Democrat
In an empty donor room at Texoma Regional Blood Center, staff member Tia Jones sits on a chair while taking a break from calling eligible donors. Tia calls 100+ each day to encourage blood donations. The office and phlebotomy staff at TRBC spend hours each day personally contacting area residents. These calls are used to inform the community of the desperate need for blood donations and to ask that people make time to donate.

With just a small prick of a needle and a little bit of time, an individual could save multiple people's lives. That is the message, Texoma Regional Blood Center wants to get out to people as it works to find donors to fulfill its critical blood needs.

In a telephone call on Wednesday, Texoma Regional Blood Center Donor Recruiter Melanie Robertson said that over the holiday weekend, a local hospital used 60 units of blood. Unfortunately, the center had only collected about 30 units in the days leading up to the holiday meaning the demand is exceeding the local center's available supply.

"Blood usage in our area hospitals has more than doubled; plasma usage has tripled!! PPE and medications can, in most cases, be manufactured to meet the increased demand; unfortunately, blood, plasma, and platelets cannot. The blood that is being used at our area hospitals to save the lives of our friends, neighbors, and members of OUR community, comes from LOCAL BLOOD DONORS," Robertson said in a news release.

The thing that makes this shortage so much worse than more cyclical shortages is the fact that it is happening everywhere, Robertson said in the phone conversation. As a result, TRBC cannot reach out to other blood centers to get the supplies they need. 

Part of the critical shortage, comes from the fact that major companies who once opened their parking lots to the blood mobile and encouraged their staff to take part in blood drives are either still shuttered with their staff working from home, or have not started to allow non staff back on the premise from the pandemic.

"It is not a fear of getting sick," Robertson said, "that is keeping people away. At this point it seems to be donor fatigue where people are just being asked to give in so many ways for so many critical needs that they have become almost deaf to the calls for help.

Unlike other things though, local blood supplies must come from local people, and it would really only take a few days of heavy giving to get the center back to where it would like to be game.

Robertson said those who are afraid they can't give blood because they are anemic or have some other issue should consult with them at the center. They will be able to guide them in reclaiming the ability to give blood.

Those who can't give blood can still help. The center's Facebook page only reaches about 5,000 people. If everyone who receives its post would share it with all of their friends, that reach could be multiplied greatly.

"A lack of awareness of the need is one of the greatest problems right now," Robertson said.

For instance, people might not know that the center serves five hospitals including Wilson N. Jones Regional Medical Center, Texoma Medical Center in Sherman and in Bonham, Baylor Scott & White in Sherman and Munster Memorial Hospital. 

Texoma Regional Blood Center, 3911 Texoma Parkway, in Sherman is open from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays. Staff can be reached at 903-893-4314.

Coming blood drives are set for 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday at Sherman's Town Center. For more information, see:https://www.texomablood.org/Blood-Drives.