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Start of school year usually boosts donations, but offers no relief amid COVID-19; Community Blood Center encourages blood donors to schedule appointments at donor centers

KANSAS CITY — Community Blood Center (CBC) is calling on the community to make appointments to visit donor centers as COVID-19 has fundamentally changed the process of donating blood. Before COVID-19, mobile blood drives hosted by high schools, colleges, businesses and other organizations made up about 70% of the region’s incoming blood supply, but the number of mobile drives has dropped by two-thirds this year as these groups can no longer host them.

The upcoming school year presents new and unprecedented challenges. Blood donations are typically lower during the summer and the return to school usually helps make up the difference and stabilize the blood supply. In the past, school and college drives have collected 20,000 blood donations during each school year. 

“We’ve always relied on the fall to provide a boost in blood donations from high school and college blood drives that are large and well-attended, but we know that’s not happening this time,” said Kim Peck, Senior Executive Director of Community Blood Center. “The pandemic is forcing us to rethink the entire landscape, which means encouraging donors to take the extra step of making an appointment and traveling to a donor center. The loss of young donors is a particular challenge because our future blood supply is dependent on these first-time donors becoming lifetime donors.”

CBC began hosting a limited number of drives again this summer, however they are far from the number of drives per month needed to support area hospitals. CBC is encouraging eligible donors of all ages to adapt to this new normal by making appointments to visit one of its 7 donor centers.

Blood from volunteer donors is needed every two seconds to help meet the daily transfusion needs of cancer and surgery patients, accident and burn victims, newborns and mothers delivering babies, AIDS and sickle cell anemia patients, and many more.