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Donations of blood still needed

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Juno Ogle Photo Although walk-in donations are not being taken at this time, Vitalant is taking blood donations by appointment at its Roswell office, 3 Grand Avenue Plaza.

Although large donor turn-outs and fewer surgeries have decreased demand for blood, donations are still needed, a representative of a Roswell blood donor center said Tuesday.

Donations at Vitalant, 3 Grand Avenue Plaza, will be by appointment only and bloodmobile drives across southeast New Mexico will be decreased, Stephanie Seabrease, senior donor recruitment representative with Vitalant, said.

She said because of health orders limiting the number of people who can gather and how much space should be between them, she is looking for locations for blood drives rather than using a bloodmobile.

“The inside setups are absolutely the safest environment,” Seabrease said of following state and federal orders to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. “We do have guidelines for those, which is a lot less people, so they take a little longer.”

Response from the public has been great, though, Seabrease said, especially in the state’s largest city.

“Albuquerque donors have been coming in a lot more than they did in the past, huge turnout there,” she said.

But southeast New Mexicans have been helpful, too. Seabrease said a radio announcement in Hobbs — that an inside location was needed for a blood drive — got a quick response, and Roswell’s Church on the Move, 901 W. Brasher Road, has been in contact with her.

“It looks like we’re going to be doing something with them later in the month or the first part of May,” she said.

Many hospitals are putting off procedures such as surgeries when possible in case large numbers of COVID-19 patients need hospitalization, Seabrease said, so Vitalant is actually slowing down its blood drives.

“We are doing a great job of supplying our hospitals with all their needs. Whatever they need, we’ve got it for them, and that’s because of the graciousness of the donors all over the state,” she said.

“We’re going to slow down a little bit, because we don’t want to overdo it,” she said.

“They’re taking a look at what we’ve got on the shelf, what we’re projecting what we need, and we’re taking out some drives to make sure we don’t have too much because we don’t want to be wasting” blood, she said.

Whole blood has a shelf life of 30 days, she said.

There will be blood drives in southeast New Mexico throughout April, but Seabrease stressed appointments will be necessary. No walk-ins will be allowed.

“We are not able to do that because of the limitation of people allowed in the room,” she said.

All donors will be screened with questions about any symptoms and travel as well as having their temperature taken.

“We’re following the CDC guidelines and the FDA. They are recommending that if healthy people can donate, they should feel it’s safe, and we’re doing our part to make sure that we keep it safe,” she said.

Seabrease said anyone wanting to schedule a donation can call her at 575-840-8178.

To keep up with local coverage of the coronavirus, go to rdrnews.com/category/news/covid-19-situation/.

City/RISD reporter Juno Ogle can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 205, or reporter04@rdrnews.com.