Central Texas blood bank has ‘growing’ need for donations after Harvey

Blood and platelet donation bags (KXAN Photo)
Blood and platelet donation bags (KXAN Photo)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — In an update to We are Blood’s “ongoing and growing” blood donation needs, the blood bank that works as the sole provider of blood to Central Texas hospitals is asking for donors to schedule a donation appointment.

The group sent a mobile unit to San Marcos on Wednesday where they say dozens showed up to donate.

“The process was done before I knew it,” said Marcos Acosta, just after he finished donating a pint of blood. “It was super easy.”

Along with many others, Acosta says he specifically donated to help those impacted by Hurricane Harvey. “It’s definitely something that is needed. So, I think what we are able to do, we should do,” he said.

“I don’t have a boat or anything, but I can be donating my blood,” said Mariana Ocampo. Her brother lives in Houston, although he is safe from the flood she has heard stories and said this was her chance to help. “He’s safe, but he can’t go anywhere and he can’t drive anywhere. It’s not the best situation over there right now,” she said.

Blood centers on the coast are still unable to open which leaves them leaning on Central Texas. To sustain local hospitals on a normal day, We Are Blood says it needs 200 donations a day, factor in a massive city like Houston and that need easily doubles. We Are Blood says many people from the coast have been brought into hospitals in their 10-county region in Central Texas, and the community has stepped up to donate.

“Last week we were actually at a critical level,” said We Are Blood Director of Community Engagement Shaina Novotny. “We honestly have seen such an overwhelming amount of support from the community. Not only were we able to come back from that over the weekend, people were showing up for appointments even with the rain.”

Novotny says the blood bank has received so many donations the organization is sending the extras to Houston and Corpus Christi hospitals. “Right now convoys are delivering the blood,” she said.

However, they expect the need will continue into the next few weeks and, because blood has a limited shelf life, We Are Blood needs their supply to be replenished through next month.

“I don’t want people to hear that the blood supply is at a safe level and that they aren’t needed. We absolutely need you, the need is daily,” said Novotny.

Anyone interesting in donating blood can visit the We Are Blood website to schedule an appointment or call 512-206-1266. While walk-ins are accepted, the organization prefers appointments so their staff can maintain a steady stream of donations.

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