KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – Employees at the MEDIC Regional Blood Center said getting donors through their door has been a battle, especially over the summer months.
“Folks get off their schedules, their calendars change, this isn’t a priority on their schedule so they don’t come in as often as they might,” said Kristy Altman, the Director of Communications for MEDIC Regional Blood Center.
Altman said seeing a dip in donors is normal over the summer while simultaneously seeing a greater need for blood. “People are having accidents, they’re out traveling, things are happening, and again, this summer we’re still seeing that increase in the elective surgeries,” she said. “We’ve just had an overall critical need for several weeks and months now.”
One of their biggest challenges in addition to getting donors is keeping the O-Negative shelves stocked.
“Going into today, actually, it’s not the worst day I’ve seen in a long time,” Altman said, calling it encouraging. “For O-Negative supply, we have about a three-day supply, which is more than we’ve had on-hand in several weeks.”
Ideally, MEDIC Regional would like to have a ten-day supply of O-Negative blood in case of emergencies. “What’s on the shelves right now is what would be used in a trauma situation, so if there was some sort of mass, large accident that happened or some sort of mass event that needed transfusions that could be wiped out very, very quickly,” described Altman of her current situation.
She said in addition to people not realizing how much blood is needed in an emergency, many also don’t realize that the donated blood doesn’t go directly to area hospitals. “It’s quite a process, if all the stars align it’s a 3-4 day turnaround to be ready to go to hospitals,” she said. “We have to make sure that it’s safe for transfusion.”
Altman is hopeful with kids going back to school that parents will be able to make donating part of their routine. She also looks forward to getting back to blood drives at high schools this fall.
For those who are concerned about exposure to COVID-19, donors are welcome to wear face masks and can request the MEDIC Regional employees who are assisting them to wear a mask as well. Altman said Medic employees will continue sanitizing practices that started at the beginning of the pandemic. She also said their teams are monitoring the delta variant closely.
There are also new promotions going on throughout this month. In August, all donors will be eligible to win a $1,000 e-gift card (must have a valid email to win) and a $5 coupon to The Axe House. All donors will also receive a special edition tie-dye t-shirt and a coupon to Texas Roadhouse. MEDIC Regional is also working on a promotion with Dollywood which will be announced at a later date this month. Other giveaways in August are listed below.
- August 2-6: Daily drawing for a pair of tickets to Paula Deen’s Lumberjack Feud
- August 12-13: Coupon for one-hour of free snow tubing at Pigeon Forge Snow
- August 13: Back to School drive at West Town Mall
- August 23–27: TN Valley Fair Ticket for all donors
- August 30–September 5: First Responder Celebration Week
- Special edition pin and t-shirt for first responders (first come, first served)
- Special drives all week
Appointments are preferred. Appointments can be made online at www.medicblood.org. Walk-in donors are allowed. MEDIC Regional Blood Center is the primary blood provider for 24 hospitals in 22 counties including UT Medical Center, Covenant Health System hospitals, Tennova hospitals, Blount Memorial, and East TN Children’s Hospital.