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Blood Stores in Short Supply, Ochsner Requesting Blood Donations From Community

NEW ORLEANS – The Ochsner Blood Bank, like blood banks across the country, is experiencing critical blood shortages and need donations from the community. While all blood types are needed, there is an immediate need o of platelets and Type O red cells.

Why is it so important to donate blood right now?

  • This shortage in blood supply is an unfortunate symptom of the COVID-19 pandemic—people have been reluctant to visit donation centers.
  • It’s estimated that 4.5 million Americans need blood transfusions each year. Just one donation can save up to three lives.
  • Blood is needed every five seconds – for babies, leukemia patients, burn victims, emergency surgeries, organ transplants, trauma patients and the list goes on.
  • Few acts are as simple, and yet so generous, as donating blood. And the only source for this blood is you, the volunteer donor. Volunteers donate all of this country’s blood supply for transfusions. Simply put, there is no other source. Ochsner needs your help to ensure a safe and adequate blood supply for the community.

Has the pandemic heightened the need for blood donors? Why or why not?

  • Yes, the pandemic has led to members of the public being wary of leaving their homes and coming into our donation centers to give blood.
  • As a result, Ochsner Blood Bank, like blood banks across the country, is experiencing critical blood shortages. While all blood types are needed, there is an immediate need o of platelets and Type O red cells. 
  • It is safe to come to one of our blood donation centers or a blood drive in our Bloodmobile and donate blood. Donors and employees are required to wear masks and donors undergo routine screening questions and temperature checks before donation. Stations have always been cleaned and sanitized in between uses, but our protocols now call for even more and enhanced sanitation methods to protect not only our donors, but our employees as well.
  • You can donate blood at our stationary blood centers at Ochsner Medical Center in New Orleans, Ochsner Medical Center- West Bank Campus in Gretna and Ochsner Medical Center- Kenner. You can find days and hours of operation at www.ochsner.org/bloodbank

Who can donate blood and what are some tips for a successful blood donation?

  • All healthy adults are encouraged to donate blood. Volunteers may donate blood every eight weeks, or every 56 days. Most donations take approximately 40 minutes.
  • Donors must:
    • Be at least 17 years old and weigh at least 110 pounds.
    • Be over cold or flu symptoms for 72 hours.
    • Have not donated whole blood in the last eight weeks.
    • Have had no transfusions for one year.
    • Have no history of hepatitis after age 11.
    • Have had no tattoos in the last month from a facility that is not regulated by the state of Louisiana.
  • On the day of your donation, we recommend you:
    • Drink an extra 16 oz of water before your appointment
    • Eat a healthy meal
    • Wear a shirt with sleeves you can easily roll above your elbow.

Convalescent Plasma 

  • If you are fully recovered from COVID-19, you could be eligible to donate your plasma to help patients fighting COVID-19 in the hospital. Plasma is the yellow, liquid part of the blood that contains antibodies. Because you fought the infection, your plasma now contains COVID-19 antibodies. These antibodies provided one way for your immune system to fight the virus when you were sick, so your plasma may be able help others fight off the disease.
  • People who have recovered from COVID-19 for at least two weeks and meet other donor qualifications are eligible.
  • To donate convalescent plasma at Ochsner, you can call 504-842-3375 for more information and to schedule an appointment.

How can our viewers donate and/or learn more?

  • Between Ochsner’s three local blood banks, we are open Monday through Saturday. We also sponsor mobile blood drives in the community. Check www.ochsner.org/bloodbank for locations and hours of operation. We also are hosting 10 blood drives in the month of February in South Louisiana. Our website has a list of them—check it out to find one near you
  • Appointments are encouraged and can be scheduled online at www.ochsner.org/bloodbank or over the phone at 504-842-3375.

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