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Blood need called critical as surgeries resume


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The lifting of restrictions on medical procedures that can be performed has also brought the need for blood donations to a critical state in New Mexico.

“We just went into critical need last Friday,” Stephanie Seabrease, senior donor recruitment representative with Vitalant, said Tuesday.

“We have a very low supply, maybe one day or less,” she said.

The state typically needs 246 units of blood a day for hospitals and is approaching that number again as surgeries and other procedures have resumed after health orders halted those deemed non-essential.

At the same time, Vitalant, a nonprofit independent blood collector with a donor center at 3 Grand Avenue Plaza, has had to cancel many of its blood drives in the area due to the restrictions on gatherings.

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Anyone wanting to donate should call Seabrease at 575-840-8178 or go to vitalant.org. All blood types are needed, especially Type O, A-negative and B-negative, according to a press release from Vitalant.

Southeast New Mexico has done well in scheduling blood donations, Seabrease said, but areas in the northwest part of the state where COVID-19 cases are highest have seen a decrease, largely due to an inability to schedule blood drives.

“For the most part, I’ve had enough people reaching out to me that I’ve been able to keep my calendar pretty booked” in this region, she said.

However, new donors are often what helps when blood supplies are low, and new donors mostly come from blood drives at large events such as the UFO Festival or Carlsbad’s Cavernfest, both of which have been canceled.

“As a recruiter, we’re able to go out there and talk to people about donating and get them to donate, and that’s been taken from us,” she said.

Minors 17 or older can donate without parental consent while 16-year-olds can donate with permission. Those with health conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure can donate if those conditions are under control. Some restrictions apply to other health conditions and travel.

“We do appreciate our regular donors, but we do need new donors. If anybody has any questions at all about their eligibility, they’re more than welcome to call me at any time,” Seabrease said.

Anyone who has recovered from COVID-19 can donate as well, as long as they have been clear of the virus for at least 21 days, she said. Those who have recovered can give convalescent plasma, which contains antibodies to the novel coronavirus and can be given to current COVID-19 patients, according to the Vitalant press release.

Technicians at blood centers will follow guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control, keeping people 6 feet apart and limiting the number of people in the room. Face coverings for both donors and staff are required, and donors’ temperatures will be taken upon check-in.

Seabrease said throughout June, Vitalant will conduct promotions with prizes for donors including restaurant gift certificates and T-shirts.

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


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