Donating blood provides much-needed resource for community

Sam Malone, Editor in Chief

A global pandemic could lead to a second local health crisis if residents don’t consider continuing or beginning to donate blood, as the world battles COVID-19.

While residents are self-quarantining and adapting to social distancing as a result of coronavirus, Versiti Blood Center’s DeKalb location, 2428 Sycamore Road, is battling its own crisis: a lack of blood. The DeKalb location is part of the larger Versiti Blood Center of Illinois circuit which also includes an Aurora-based location, 1200 N. Highland Ave. The Aurora location alone serves 63 Chicagoland and Northwest Indiana hospitals.

Emily Alanis, donor recruitment manager at the Versiti Blood Center of Illinois, said one in every seven persons who enter a hospital need blood, and since the COVID-19 pandemic, blood donations have dropped significantly. In comparison, the number of people entering hospitals has risen, and the need for blood grows.

 Blood donation centers such as Versiti remain safe and clean despite the pandemic, enforcing new measures such as further separation of donors and more intensive cleaning regiments to comply with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommendations regarding COVID-19.

It is reasonable that residents are nervous to go out, but unless we want another crisis on our hands, blood donation remains critical. In fact, it could provide a safe way to dispel some of that restlessness many are feeling from self-quarantining. Each donation takes roughly one hour, and the Food and Drug Administration is continuing to encourage people to donate.

Fear to donate is likely stemming from the government’s efforts to get residents to stay home and practice quarantining. These efforts are aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19 to help ensure the country has enough medical supplies to continue servicing anyone who needs help. Supplies such as masks and ventilators are in high demand, and blood will follow if not enough donors are getting out to Versiti and other blood-donation locations.

In DeKalb county, there have been nine confirmed COVID-19 cases, and while that can be concerning, it should also be encouraging. DeKalb provides one of the least affected areas as of now, and students and residents should consider donating blood to help other communities whose confirmed-case counts are skyrocketing. People in counties such as Cook, which has 4,496 confirmed cases as of March 31, according to the State of Illinois coronavirus response webpage, may be feeling overwhelmed by the numbers, forcing them in.

The DeKalb community could step up in a big way, just by donating blood. While the pandemic can be scary, we must not forget the small ways we can continue to help save lives because COVID-19 does not stop the need for blood.

All information used in this column is current as of 2 p.m. April 1.