Blood bank gets boost, but needs more for area hospitals

Jerrie Whiteley
Herald Democrat
n 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. Jones 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.

A recent push by the Texoma Regional Blood Center resulted in a significant number of blood donations. However, a looming holiday weekend and a national shortage of blood means there is still a beyond critical need for blood locally.

A lot of the response they got came from a call from Denison schools.

"We contacted various school systems to ask them to use their automatic calling systems to to notify our community that we needed blood," Donor Recruiter for Texoma Regional Blood Center Melanie Robertson said. She said a few schools replied that they would and one of those was Denison.

"The call that Denison School District put out had a major impact. That call went out Tuesday evening at 6 p.m. and our community as a whole owes Dr. David Kirkbride, a huge thank you because he is able to deliver a message that really does stir within people a desire to make a difference and it did," she said.

The next morning, Robertson woke to her phone going off. 

"They were busier in this office than they have been in well over a year," she said. "Pre-pandemic kind of busy. We had 84 donations that were taken in house on Wednesday."

And that was just the beginning.

Robertson estimated that the push for more blood donations would see a donation of more than 300 units over the next few weeks. They had a radio station that did a drive at the center and that generated another 120 units of blood collected.

"That's the most that I've ever seen here," she said.

Then on Friday, another drive collected 93 units of blood. Saturday, TRBC was short staffed so they had to pull the drive that was scheduled in Sherman saying staff expected another really busy day at the office. It didn't turn out to be. 

TRBC was being talked about so much on social media that it was at the top of the Google search list when a woman out of Grandbary to look for a place to give blood. She was the head of marketing at a barbecue place and brought some free things for the TRBC to give away to those who donated.

Robertson said she was surprised to find out the many people didn't think that they could just walk into the TRBC and give blood. So if nothing else has come of this push, at least more people realize that they don't have to wait for a drive.

Walk ins are welcome.

The blood center is the sole blood supplier for Texoma Medical Center, Wilson N. Jones Regional Medical Center, Baylor Scott & White Surgical Hospital in Sherman, Bonham TMC and Muenster Memorial Hospitals.

The TRBC has 5200 followers on social media and their posts only reach those same 5,200 people unless those people then share those posts with their family and friends. She said all of sharing helped them to boost their reach last week, Robertson said.

With all of that giving, when staff checked the inventory report on Tuesday, they were still in critical need A negative, B negative and AB negative. 

"Over the weekend, our area hospitals used well over 100 units of blood," Robertson said.  Then over the 24-hour period ending Tuesday morning, they used another another 30 units of blood.

"And it wasn't even a holiday weekend so if you can imagine them using over 100 units of blood on just a regular weekend, she said.

A holiday weekend could easily double that."

They need people to help build the buzz about the importance of giving blood and doing so on a routine basis.

"Set an alarm for when you will be able to give blood again and remind others on social media to do the same," Robertson encouraged people to challenge their friends and family to give blood and to share about the importance of doing so on social media.

The need for blood, she said, is one of those things people don't think about until someone they lobe needs it and by that time, it can be too late. 

The need to keep the buzz alive, she said, is as urgent as the need to get people to walk in and give blood once. 

The Texoma Regional Blood Center is located at 3911 Texoma Pkwy, in Sherman and can be reached by phone at 903-893-4314.