El Paso blood banks see more donations, but the need never ceases

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EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — El Paso blood banks are seeing more people donate blood and plasma, but the supply dries out fast.

“Maybe, if there is an upside to this is that people realized the necessity of having blood donations,” said Carla Alexander, communications manager at Vitalant Blood Bank.

The past several months were extremely challenging for collecting blood donations, she explained, with hospitals stopping non-essential operative procedures, not just for safety, but to also preserve the blood supply.

Alexander said they are now seeing more people donating blood and convalescent plasma for COVID-19 treatment.

She explained that the supply might be stable at the moment, but as soon as donations drop, the supply dries out rapidly.

At the moment, the blood bank is in need of O blood type, especially O negative, as it is a universal donor.

With the vaccine rollout, she said, many believe plasma donations are not as necessary.

“People are still contracting the illness, and we strongly encourage you to come in and donate plasma,” said Alexander.

With every blood donation, Vitalant performs a free antibody test that shows whether a person was infected in COVID-19 at one point.

Those who have the antibodies are also eligible to donate plasma 28 days after an infection with coronavirus.

The pandemic is not the only reason that is affecting more donations from coming in.

Alexander explained that people often need to be reminded to donate, but many also have a fear of needles. However, she said, this fear can be resolved by making a big difference with a pint of a minor inconvenience.

“It seems less personal because it goes into a bag, but you have to remember it’s going somewhere and it’s going to help someone continue their life,” said Alexander.

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