ST. LOUIS - Summertime is notoriously bad for blood donations across the country, usually due to vacations and typical summer slump. This year, in addition to the expected decline, many mobile blood drives are being canceled due to the pandemic. Regardless, the need for blood never stops.
"We typically hold many drives at high schools and universities in the spring to bolster our supply going into the summer," said Dr. Emily Schindler, medical director of Mercy Blood Donor Services. "Given the pandemic, those drives were canceled. And now, we're at the critical point in the summer when needs increase."
Mercy Hospital St. Louis is the only hospital in Missouri that is mobile for its own blood supply. The blood donations go to help people of all ages and walks of life - accident victims, cancer patients, someone undergoing surgery, tiny babies in the neonatal intensive care unit and more. All donations collected are used to support patients at the other Mercy hospitals in the region.
Blood donors are still welcome in the hospital. To ensure proper social distancing, appointments are required. Everyone entering the hospital will be screened for temperature, symptoms as well as reason for a visit. Masks are required.
Dr. Bhaskara Gadi, Mercy Clinic Oncology and Hematology, sees how important blood donations can be. "When my patients receive blood, I see the immediate difference - not only in their quality of life but it enables them to receive life saving treatment such as chemo and radiation."
Dr. Gadi took matters into his own hands when he heard of canceled blood drives and the need for blood.
"I called my friends and others in the community who were happy to step up and donate," Dr. Gadi said.
It takes about 10 minutes for the actual blood donation; the start to finish time – signing in, screening, donation and snack – takes about an hour.
Mercy Blood Donor Services is open for donations five day a week and located on the lobby level of Mercy Hospital St. Louis. Due to access restrictions in place related to COVID-19, appointments are required to maintain social distancing. For more information, to schedule your appointment or host a mobile drive, please call 1-866-37DONOR (373-6667) or 314-251-4483 or click here.