Widespread Snow and Ice Disrupting Nation's Blood Supply

Severe winter storms bringing debilitating snow, ice and cold to much of the United States are causing widespread concern for the nation’s blood supply. Many blood centers have had to close their doors for multiple days due to power outages or weather conditions, resulting in a loss of more than 25,000 donations in February alone. In addition, transportation difficulties—including treacherous roads and closed airports—are further complicating the ability to transport life-saving blood to hospitals for patients in need.

These weather-related challenges come at a time when the nation’s blood supply was already strained. Some blood centers are now reporting critically low inventories, and blood collection organizations across the country are working together to help meet the need as best they can.

Eligible Individuals Who are Able to Donate Are Asked to Give Blood Now

Right now there is a particular need for Type O blood donations. Type O Negative Blood can be transfused to patients with any blood type and is what hospital staff reach for during emergencies when there isn’t time to determine a patient’s blood type. Type O Positive Blood is the most transfused blood type and is also critical in trauma situations.

Blood has a short shelf life and the supply must constantly be replenished. Blood donors are needed now and will continue to be needed to help ensure the adequacy of the blood supply.

Snow Storm Wrecks Havoc on Nation's Blood Supply

One Auburn Resident Has Helped Save Over 200 Lives

Laura Higdon of Auburn has donated enough blood to save multiple lives – 288 to be exact. Higdon, who works as an analyst at UW Medicine, has donated 12 gallons of blood with Cascade Regional Blood Services.

Blood Supply Critically Low

The COVID-19 pandemic has lead to a decrease in blood donations. These donations help supply blood to local hospitals and clinics. Cascade Regional Blood Services’ director of communications, marketing, and community relations Candy Morrison said blood centers need donations from younger donors.

“A lot of blood donors are older and they aren’t wanting to leave their homes right now. So we are not seeing our regular huge donor base as much, during this pandemic.”  

Additionally, Cascade Regional Blood Services receives about 30 percent of blood from schools, which are currently closed due to COVID-19. 

Essential Blood Donor, Laura Higdon | photo from Laura Higdon

There Is No Substitute For Blood

Continuous donors like Higdon are helping blood centers remain operational. Higdon feels it’s her duty to donate when she can at the Federal Way blood center. She donates at least every 56 days, the amount of time required to wait in between blood donations.

Higdon was first introduced to donating when she worked at a YMCA in high school. A supervisor invited Higdon to donate blood with her, and Higdon has donated since. Despite her initial fear of needles, she felt motivated to donate knowing her blood could potentially help others. The previous summer, Higdon worked as a camp counselor where a camper’s younger sister had blood cancer. “I thought, well if that little girl can have needles poked into her, I guess I can do this to help somebody like her,” Higdon said.

75 Years of Saving Lives

All of us at Cascade Regional Blood Services want to  express our sincere gratitude to each one of you that help us save lives each and every day. Your generosity and commitment to patients in our area hospitals has built a strong and close community. The need for blood is ongoing. In 2021, we ask you to make donating blood a priority, a habit, something so crucial that you plan your schedule around. You have been the heroes we needed for 75 years, and patients need your commitment to saving more lives in 2021.

Help us celebrate! We would love to hear from you. If you donate blood and would like to tell us what motives you to help others. Or, if you have been a recipient of a blood transfusion and would like to share your journey, please send your story (and photos if you’d like) to marketing@crbs.net.

Saving Lives Since 1946

A Nurse Takes a Donor’s Blood Pressure

FDA Updates Blood Donor Eligibility Qualifications

With recent changes in eligibility rules, donating blood at Cascade Regional Blood Services (CRBS) is now easier than ever. When the need remains critically high, donors that have been deferred in the past may now be eligible to donate.

According to Cascade Regional Blood Services, someone needs blood every two seconds in the United States. Blood is used in several vital procedures, including surgeries, cancer treatments, and when caring for terminal illnesses and life-threatening injuries.

Fortunately, updated recommendations to donor qualifications were made by the FDA earlier this year to meet the growing demands for the contribution of blood and blood components as a direct result of COVID-19.

“The recent FDA guidance changes will make more donors eligible, which helps CRBS maintain an adequate blood supply for our community,” said Tara Crosby, Director of Quality Assurance at CRBS. “Maintaining an adequate blood supply is essential at any time but especially during a pandemic when we do not need another public health threat such as a blood supply shortage.”

The FDA changes took place immediately and will likely be permanent once the pandemic has concluded.

Let's Stick It To COVID

It is vital that all eligible individuals continue to answer the call and schedule an appointment to donate plasma. To date, independent community blood centers (non-American Red Cross) have distributed more than 100,000 units of convalescent plasma to patients in need.” America’s Blood Centers

If you had a laboratory confirmed case of COVID-19 and have since experienced a full recovery please sign up to be a COVID-19 Convalescent Plasma Donor. If you have further questions, please contact the Supervisor of Clinical and Research Procedures at Cascade Regional Blood Services at 253-383-2553 | heathers@crbs.net. It is safe and an essential act to donate blood and convalescent plasma to ensure its availability for patients in need.

Surgeon General Dr. Adams

I’m Surgeon General Jerome Adams. If you have recovered from COVID-19, confirmed by a positive test, you’re in a special position to help us fight the virus. Your plasma has antibodies that may help others fight COVID. so please donate plasma now. You can literally help save lives.

CRBS SHOUT-OUT: Gordy made platelet donation number 300!

Bright and early this morning Gordy made platelet donation number 300. THREE HUNDRED!

The dedication and commitment that Gordy has for his community is outstanding. We are so fortunate that he is part of our CRBS family. Thank you, Gordy, for your generous heart that has saved the lives of so many!

Multicare Vitals: After recovering from COVID-19, MultiCare surgeon donates funds and his own plasma to help others

MultiCare Vitals shares the story of Dr. Prakash Gatta, MBBS, FACS, an esophageal surgeon who contracted COVID-19 in March.

“At its worst, it felt like a very unusual flu — one like I’d never had before. And even today, I’m still feeling weak and sleeping isn’t always easy. The effects are still lingering.”

Dr. Gatta recovered, and immediately signed up to donate his convalescent plasma in a clinical trial that Cascade Regional Blood Services is running in partnership with the Mayo Clinic. The trial will help future patients who are infected.

“Until a vaccine comes out, there is no drug for this, so studies like these become very important,” Gatta explains.

Read the full article

The News Tribune: Convalescent plasma seen as 'glimmer of hope' for people suffering from COVID-19

The News Tribune reports that regional blood banks—including Cascade Regional Blood Services—are collecting plasma to send to hospitals, giving sick individuals the antibodies to fight COVID-19.

The plasma filled with these antibodies is transfused into sick people to give their immune system a fighting chance, said Tara Crosby, quality assurance director for Cascade Regional Blood Services.

[…] “We really do need as many people as possible to increase our donor base for convalescent plasma,” Crosby said. “If you’ve recovered and want to help, we’d love to hear from you.”

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CRBS’ Rapid Response to COVID-19

Help provide new hope in our fight against the coronavirus

Recovered COVID-19 patient Alissa Kelli Sarbiewski donates plasma at Cascade Regional Blood Services

South Sound Magazine: Recovered COVID Patients’ Plasma Donations Could Lead to Treatment

Recovered COVID-19 patient Alissa Kelli Sarbiewski donates plasma at Cascade Regional Blood Services

South Sound Magazine reports that Cascade Regional Blood Services is taking part in a national effort to search for new treatments and vaccines for COVID-19, largely by looking at blood plasma donations from people who have recovered from it.

Enumclaw resident Alissa Kelli Sarbiewski is one of many recovered COVID patients who has decided to donate her blood plasma to research.

“I donated plasma because I want to help others who are suffering with COVID-19,” Sarbiewski said. “If my antibodies are the way I can pay it forward, I’m eager to take part. The biggest lesson in all of this for me is that even the hardest trials can become positive and meaningful when seen through a lens of potentially helping someone else.”

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