KILLEEN, TX — With holidays, illnesses and other obligations, health officials say donating blood in January is usually not on a lot of people’s minds. With a pandemic on top of that, it can be a nightmare for those in need.
“Even at times when we felt like it was better, there was never really the supply we appreciate,” said Linda Goelzer, the director of public relations at Carter BloodCare. “Our community usually allows us to have.”
It's the donated blood that can save lives, a notion that hasn’t changed amid the pandemic.
“We’re still getting people that are in motor vehicle accidents. People that have cancer still need to get platelets. There’s people with significant heart disease, still need heart transplants,” said Dr. Walter Linz, the director of the blood donor center and transfusion service at Baylor Scott & White in Temple. “The system doesn't stop just because of COVID.”
It’s a need that’s only grown larger this past year as more centers were forced to shut down blood drives and enforce safety guidelines. In turn, it limited the amount of people they can serve.
”We want to do our part to make sure that the supply is there for them to order,” Goelzeri said. “But we are in that unique relationship as an organization in that we can’t do what we do without our community's help.”
Now that the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are approved for emergency use, the question is when can those who receive it donate blood? The FDA says as soon as you’re ready.
“Know that you are safe to donate blood when you come and give blood with Carter BloodCare, even if you have had a COVID-19 vaccine,” Goelzer said.
However, the American Association of Blood Banks released a statement noting that the decision should be left up to medical directors entirely.
“We are looking at a deferral period that would probably, that would go beyond that second vaccinations,” Dr. Linz said. “Make sure everyone is feeling good and making sure that there is no issues.”
Though the wait times depend on where you go, Dr. Linz says if you have had COVID-19 and recovered from it, your convalescent plasma could be vital in the fight against the virus in local hospitals.