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Demand high for blood, plasma donations

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The need for blood donors remains high even as the holidays approach, and Vitalant is also asking for those who have had COVID-19 to consider donating convalescent plasma.

Convalescent plasma contains antibodies that can be given to those suffering from active, severe cases of COVID-19 to give them a boost to fight the illness caused by the novel coronavirus, according to a press release from Vitalant, a nonprofit blood service provider.

“We are definitely trying to find people that are willing to donate their plasma,” Stephanie Seabrease, senior donor recruitment representative with Vitalant, said.

Convalescent plasma donors should have been diagnosed with COVID-19, had a positive antibody test or had symptoms of COVID-19 but have been feeling well for 28 days, she said.

“Right now we’re doing free COVID-19 antibody testing. That was originally going to be stopped in October, then it was December. Now we’re going to be doing it all the way into March,” she said.

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In addition to the convalescent plasma, all types of blood are needed, especially Type O.

Type O-negative blood is in the highest demand, as it is considered a universal donor, meaning anyone with any type of blood can receive it. Type O-positive is the second-highest in demand, Seabrease said, but all donors with all types are needed.

Vitalant will have blood drives across the area in the next couple of weeks. Seabrease said across southeast New Mexico, Vitalant has been able to secure indoor locations for blood drives.

“That’s better because we can space people out,” she said.

The organization also has a bus for mobile blood drives, but can accommodate only two donors at a time, she said.

The blood drives are observing all COVID-19 safety practices, such as checking temperatures and screening for symptoms at the door as well as extra disinfecting procedures.

Seabrease said appointments to donate are appreciated, but walk-ins are welcome, too.

“When (the pandemic) first started, everybody was making an appointment and they were coming in like clockwork. Now that more things are happening, like somebody finds out they were exposed to COVID or they get sick, we’re getting more cancellations, so now we are taking walk-ins again so long as we don’t get overrun,” she said.

To schedule an appointment, go to vitalant.org or call 877-258-4825.

Upcoming blood drives include the following locations:

• 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesday, Pioneer Bank, 3000 N. Main.

• 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday and 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Dec. 29, Vitalant, 3 Grand Plaza Ave.

• 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Jan. 2, bloodmobile at Albertsons Market, 900 W. Second.

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