Image courtesy Bloodworks Northwest

Image courtesy Bloodworks Northwest

Blood drives cancelled through June; new “pop-up” sites being organized

Social distancing has led to at least a temporary suspension of mobile blood drives.

As Washington plans to cautiously reopen in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, a crucial resource is now running dangerously low — blood.

“There was a slight decline” in the need for blood “as selective surgeries were put on hold,” said Meg Hall, a Bloodworks Northwest regional recruitment manager, referring to Gov. Jay Inslee’s March 19 order. “However, the last couple days, the hospitals are ramping back up, and we are now actually right back to the level of need the hospitals had… prior to the COVID-19 pandemic starting.”

That “level of need” is around 900 units of blood per day, which goes to supply the 100 hospitals from Southeast Alaska to Southern Oregon that Bloodworks Northwest partners with.

Unfortunately, the novel coronavirus has wreaked havoc on the traditional blood drive format, which accounts for around 60 percent of the blood the nonprofit collects. Hall said that the social distancing guidelines led to her organization canceling all of its mobile blood drives through June, though that deadline could easily be extended, she added.

Instead, Bloodworks Northwest is setting up “pop-up donor centers” around the state in the hopes of recovering the blood they now miss out on collecting during normal drives.

According to a May 6 press release, some of the larger-profile centers include T-Mobile Park in Seattle, Cheney Stadium in Tacoma, and the Angel of the Winds Arena in Everett.

“All the sports teams were gracious enough to say, ‘Hey, we understand the need… we’re on hold for our days jobs, and we have large, indoor spaces,’ which is what’s required for social distancing during blood donations for both staff and donors,” Hall said.

However, smaller venues are also hosting pop-up donor sites, including The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Maple Valley (26800 236th Pl., near Four Corners). It will be open Tuesdays and Thursdays for the last two weeks of May; this is currently the closest pop-up location for Enumclaw, Black Diamond, Maple Valley, and Covington residents to visit.

Bloodworks Northwest also continues to operate its 12 “brick-and-mortar” donation offices with extended days and hours. These include the Federal Way Center at 1414 S. 324 St., the Bellevue Center at 1907 132nd Ave. NE, the Tukwila Center at 130 Andover Park E., and the Central Seattle location at 921 Terry Ave.

However, despite these new pop-up centers, there are signs a blood shortage is right around the corner; Hall said she recently saw a report showing Bloodworks Northwest was short a couple hundred units of blood when filling a hospital’s order.

“We have a little bit on inventory, so we’re OK right now, but that is not sustainable,” she continued. “We have to find ways to get more donors to turn out… We have pop-ups going, but not all the appointment slots are filled up.”

Hall added that red blood cells can only be stored up to 42 days, and platelets for five, meaning that a constant supply of blood in crucial.

O-negative blood, the universal donor blood type, is especially important now, she continued.

“If people know that they’re O-negative, then they really need to find ways to donate,” Hall said.

Appointments are now required to donate blood in order to support social distancing and minimizing wait times.

To find a pop-up donation center near you or to schedule an appointment, even on the same day, you can call 800-398-7888.

If you have O-negative blood, you may make a special appointment by calling the same number or emailing schedule@bloodworksnw.org.

Bloodworks Northwest stated in its May 6 press release that “there is no risk of contracting coronavirus from the donation procedure,” adding that its staff wear cloth masks or a face shield, sanitize donation areas, and use hand sanitizer. “Bloodworks has posted information addressing questions and concerns for blood donors at bloodworksnw.org/coronavirus.”


Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@federalwaymirror.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.federalwaymirror.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) Please keep letters to 300 words or less.

More in News

SKFR photo
3 deaths in one week along stretch of Federal Way road

Mayor seeking roadway safety changes from Washington State Department of Transportation.

An example of a police body camera. Photo courtesy of Axon
Council approves body cameras for Federal Way police

The goal is to implement body-worn cameras by Jan. 1, 2022.

A protective mask hanging on a front door. (Sound Publishing file photo)
King County to lift indoor mask mandate on June 29

About 1.3 million county residents have completed their COVID-19 vaccine series.

File photo
King County leaders propose emergency funding for gun violence prevention initiative

Sixty-nine people were reportedly shot during the first quarter of 2021.

Photo courtesy of Federal Way Public Schools
Free summer meals for local kids begin June 28

Meals available at 16 sites throughout Federal Way school district.

Olivia Sullivan/the Mirror
Graduating with gratitude: Federal Way’s class of 2021 reaches the finish line

Gratitude was a common theme among seniors at this year’s Federal Way… Continue reading

(L-R) Top row: Yacine Bennour, Kelly Nguyen, Vince Arvin Magno, Vannary Sou, Edward Park. Middle: Emma Wadleigh, Jessica Estevez Rodriguez, Jameyah Rogers, Reyhana Hassan, Roop Dhillon. Bottom: Favour Ayemere, Andrew Dibble, Adetutu Adeshina, De'Aija Reece, Preet Dhillon. Courtesy photos
16 seniors awarded Washington State Opportunity Scholarships

Sixteen Federal Way Public Schools students have been awarded the Washington State… Continue reading

2019 Mirror file photo
Man killed after laying down in front of traffic on Pacific Highway

The 42-year-old man appeared to be suffering from a mental health crisis, police said.

Garrett Thornton. Courtesy photo
Kentridge senior awarded Don Barrows Memorial Scholarship by Federal Way Chorale

By Kathy Garrido, scholarship chairperson Kentridge High School senior Garrett Thornton is… Continue reading

Most Read