Eastern partnered with Community Blood Services of Illinois to collect blood donations on Tuesday afternoon.
The three hour event obtained six pints of blood from six donors in the Charleston community and from students on campus.
COVID-19 is likely to have impacted the number of donors, according to Stephanie Kalabus, marketing coordinator for Mississippi Valley Regional Blood Services, who works with the Central Illinois Community Blood Center.
“Everything is by appointment now, so we lose a lot of walk-in donors,” Kalabus said.
Due to the pandemic, the center has to do most of its blood drives in mobile trucks.
“A lot of the spaces where we normally go weren’t big enough to accommodate for all the social distancing and COVID rules, so the mobile truck works better because we can control the number of people in the truck and sanitize efficiently,” Kalabus said.
The group has to limit the amount of people inside to two donors at a time to maintain safe social distancing procedures, as well as sanitizing the truck after each donor.
On top of their mobile trucks, they also have six donation centers in the state that do take walk-in visits. The closest one to Charleston is in Champaign.
The Central Illinois Community Blood Center gives these blood donations to local hospitals like Sarah Bush Lincoln and Carle Foundation Hospital.
“We try to keep it local, so if you donate it in this county, these county hospitals and clinics receive it,” said Alyssa Freeman, the mobile charge of the Eastern blood drive.
Hospitals in Illinois have been requesting blood types O+, O-, AB+ and AB- as of late because they are in “critical need,” according to MVRBS.
AB+ and O- are always in demand since they are universal blood types.
“Anyone can receive O- blood, but people with O- blood can only receive O-,” said Freeman.
AB+ individuals can receive blood from any blood type, making them universal recipients.
Nine percent of the population has O- blood type and 3 percent has AB+, according to the American Red Cross.
The American Red Cross also provided data that shows the most donated blood type is O+ with 39 percent of the population having this type. The least donated blood type is AB-, since only 1 percent of the population has that type.
With every donation of one pint of blood, Freeman said three lives are saved since blood donations get separated into three parts: red cells, plasmas and platelets. The human body has anywhere from 9-12 pints of blood, according to Freeman.
“There is always a need for blood because there is no medical replacement for blood, so it’s important to donate and help out,” said Freeman.
In order to donate blood, one must be at least 16 years old. If they are 16 or 17, they need parental consent. Donors must be in healthy condition and not taking any blood thinners.
Even if someone tests positive for COVID-19, once they recover, blood donation centers–like the Central Illinois Community Blood Center– are asking for their plasma to help hospitals with treatment. Plasma from former positive COVID-19 patients have antibodies in their blood that can help others fight off the virus.
Caitlyn Craig can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]