Severe national blood shortage due to COVID-19 makes giving blood more important than ever

Nursing alumna Brittany Artigues has donated blood more than 20 times in her life.

It was something she did often when she was younger. She was an online student, but that didn’t stop her from driving to UTA whenever they hosted a blood drive.

Even the COVID-19 pandemic didn’t stop her donating for long. Blood donations are more necessary than ever, Artigues said, and the process is just as safe and clean as before.

January is National Blood Donor Awareness Month, but with COVID-19, lockdown orders and social distancing regulations, there’s been a significant decrease in blood donations, according to the American Red Cross.

The nation is facing a shortage due to more people needing blood but fewer people donating it. More than 2,700 Red Cross blood drives were canceled last March alone, according to their site.

With so many big issues going on, donating probably isn’t something people are thinking about right now, Artigues said, but they should.

She’s never once felt unsafe while giving blood, even in the pandemic, Artigues said, and she encourages anyone healthy to give if they can.

“It’s always really important for us to come together as a community during these times,” Artigues said.

Nursing sophomore Andrew Nguyen, who got his phlebotomy certification in 2019, said that although blood donations are desperately needed, staying wary of COVID-19 is still important.

With the current state of need, Nguyen doesn’t completely discourage the donation of blood. Still, he urges caution when going out even with the new regulations that have been put into place to ensure the safety of donors.

“People should donate if they want to, as long as they know the risk,” he said.

Nursing and psychology junior Alyssa Tijerina is an officer for the Arlington Nursing Students’ Association, the professional organization that hosts the Carter BloodCare drive each year on campus.

To Tijerina, the biggest concern among potential donors is the fear of the unknown. With COVID-19, it’s a learning process for everyone, she said, and she encourages the value of learning and following guidelines.

The Red Cross asks recovered COVID-19 survivors to donate their plasma, which is rich in benefits and antibodies and can be given to victims to help them fight the disease.

Tijerina said that she herself was hesitant the first time she donated blood.

It was a new experience for her, and she understands people who have reservations about giving for the first time. Nevertheless, she’d encourage individuals, especially those recovered from COVID-19, to step up and donate.

“As soon as it’s over, and you’re snacking on some cookies and drinking orange juice or apple juice, you’re like, ‘Wow, I actually did that,’” Tijerina said.

The American Red Cross is partnering with the NFL to offer incentives and raise donor numbers. Anyone who donates blood or plasma in January 2021 will be entered for a chance to win tickets to the 2022 Super Bowl in Los Angeles.

@aivylinaa

features-editor.shorthorn@uta.edu

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