OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, blood drives have been less frequent.
Representatives from the Nebraska Community Blood Bank say those drives usually account for nearly half of the blood donated in a usual year. The pandemic and less frequent donations have caused their supply to be unstable.
"Once the pandemic began and blood drives were, for the most part, shut down, it dramatically decreased the amount of blood coming in and keeping our supply stable," says Kari Lundeen, community outreach representative for Nebraska Community Blood Bank.
She says blood donation is an essential need, even during the pandemic.
Doctor Deborah Perry, the pathology medical director for Methodist Hospital, says donating blood is safe.
"If you are healthy and doing well and meet the criteria to be a blood donor we do encourage you to donate. It is safe to donate," Perry said.
She says there are a number of reasons donations have been low the past few months, including fear.
"I think some of it has been fear and some of it, we should be staying home and people are actually ill and so a variety of issues but overall donations have been down in our community and nationwide," Perry said.
To encourage more people to donate, the community blood bank is testing all blood donated now through January 31 for COVID antibodies. They are working with Operation Warp speed, a government-funded program and their goal is to find more convalescent plasma donors.
"If we can find more convalescent plasma donors by identifying those with positive antibodies for COVID-19, that will greatly help the cover patients who are in great need of this treatment," Lundeen said.
Lundeen said it's going to take a while for blood drives to get back to where they were pre-pandemic but testing for antibodies has brought in more people.
She said even if the antibody test comes back negative, your donation still helps other patients in need.
To find a donor center near you, visit https://www.ncbb.org/donate-blood/