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Blood, plasma, blood stem cell donations at a critical need across the country

Posted: 8:03 AM, Jan 22, 2021
Updated: 2021-01-22 18:23:47-05

Across the country, blood, plasma and blood stem cell donations are constantly in critical need and that hasn't changed because of the pandemic.

The need for these things doesn't stop and organizations like the American Red Cross and Be The Match continue to work diligently to save lives.

"Every two seconds someone needs blood in this country," explained Executive Director for the Central Maryland Chapter, Misty Bruce. "That could be a car accident victim, or a child battling cancer or maybe an expectant mother who things didn't go as planned."

Because of the pandemic, they've seen thousands of drives being canceled across the country. This has resulted in more than one million donations that they were unable to collect.

"Because blood is a human need, that's not going to stop. That need doesn't go away just because there's a pandemic," Bruce said.

Be The Match says they went from registering thousands of people a day to just hundreds nationwide.

"Our first thoughts were our patients and our donors, our families...what do we do in this pandemic?" asked Beth Carrion, the Community Engagement Representative for 'Be the Match.'

In terms of drives, Carrion said they've taken several precautions to ensure the safety of everyone.

"What we do is we kind of pick and choose the events that we've done, , actual drive-thru's where people can kind of pull up and we socially distance each table, or the group of volunteers that are helping us," she explained. "They pull up, they get their little Ziploc bag of the information. They pull over to the side, they can register swab their cheek, and then they honk their horn and one of the volunteers will go back out there, hold a box up to their windows so they can throw it in. So it's a touch-less drive thru to help save lives because every three minutes someone's still diagnosed with blood cancer."

Carrion explains that joining the registry right now is such a simple easy process. So easy that you can even get the cheek swab mailed to your home if you can't make it to one of the drive-up events.

To join the registry, individuals can text 4NOAH (All one word) to 61474 or click here and it takes just a few minutes to get registered. The thing to note is that when you register, only one in 430 people are ever called to be an actual genetic match for a patient.

"We work with 35 registries worldwide," Carrion said. "So you could technically be a match for someone anywhere in the world."

She also explained that 80 percent of the time the donation is very similar to a platelet or plasma donation, which is why them now call them blood STEM cell donors.

"So it's done through the arms so we can actually collect your blood STEM cells through the veins 80 percent of the time, only 20 percent of the time do we actually collect marrow anymore"

The American Red Cross is also carefully analyzing all factors and taking into account the measures that are needed to maintain a healthy and sustainable blood supply and are urging anyone who is a healthy individual to give during this time.

"The one thing that connects us is that we have the ability through our blood donations to save another life. We know that giving blood is part of this nation's critical infrastructure. So I implore you if you're healthy, if you have the time, please come out and give blood."

There's still plenty of blood donation events occurring across the Central Maryland region, they can be found below. As always, you can find up to date information on blood drives at the American Red Cross website.

For more information on how to get involved with Be the Match, whether to volunteer, donate or if you have any questions regarding giving, you can contact Beth Carrion at 210-214-7130 or her email: