Over the past week, blood centers throughout the country have experienced a significant drop in blood donations due to the mounting COVID-19 outbreak. Sampson Regional Medical Center (SRMC) is among them, and the need for donors is urgent, hospital officials said.
As people are self-quarantining and social distancing and because schools and large events are cancelled, so are scheduled blood drives. The SRMC Blood Donor Center is asking healthy and eligible individuals to give.
Due to additional precautionary guidelines amidst COVID-19, usual walk-ins cannot be accommodated. The Blood Donor Center requests all donors to make an appointment by calling 910-596-5417.
Donors must be at least 16 years old and weigh 110 pounds or more. Donors younger than 18 years must have parental consent and may have additional height and weight requirements.
Donors are screened before giving to ensure they have a healthy temperature, blood pressure, and hemoglobin level. Donors are asked a brief set of questions regarding their health history to make sure they can safely donate, and that their blood can be used for patients.
Additionally, the Blood Donor Center has tightened eligibility requirements for donors in response to COVID-19.
The following people should not attempt to donate:
• Anyone who has traveled outside of NC and/or by public transportation within the last 14 days
• Anyone who has flu-like symptoms including a fever, cough or shortness of breath
• Anyone who has interacted with someone who could have been exposed to COVID-19
If a prospective donor has specific questions about eligibility requirements, they may contact the Blood Donor Center at 919-596-5417.
The coronavirus does not post any known risk to blood donors during the donation process, health officials said. The SRMC Blood Donor Center uses sterile collection protocols required by law and is regulated by the FDA and American Blood Bank Association. This includes disinfecting donation areas frequently.
Leaders at Sampson Regional have worked for the past three weeks to prepare in the case of a COVID-19 outbreak, expanding visitation restrictions previously put in place for flu season. Those precautions grew this past Monday, March 16, when the hospital began screening all visitors to the facility.
Temporarily, the only visitor entrance into the main hospital is through the Emergency Room & Outpatient Entrance, accessed by Cooper Drive. The entrance on Beaman Street was closed to the public.
Similar precautions are being taken for the safety of those visiting the Blood Donor Center.
Donors can exclusively and safely access the Blood Donor Center through the side door of the SRMC Outpatient Diagnostic Center, located at 233 Beaman St., Clinton. Upon arrival, donors are asked to ring the side doorbell and wait to be greeted by a staff member.
Blood donations help those fighting life threating illnesses, suffering from rare blood disorders, or trauma victims in need of a lifesaving transfusion.
“The SRMC Blood Donor Center is not affiliated with other blood donor agencies, such as the American Red Cross or The Blood Connection, so it relies heavily on the loyalty of donors who live or work in Sampson County,” the hospital said in a message soliciting the public. “When community members give, their donation is used to care for patients at the hospital. (SRMC) urges the public to help maintain the blood supply needed for critically ill patients.
Editor Chris Berendt can be reached at 910-592-8137 ext. 2587.