Taking action in uncertain times

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Lane Kirkland, a sophomore at Eastern Kentucky University in 2016 who is studying to become an EMT, donates blood during the Kentucky Blood Center's Student Athlete Blood Drive Thursday in the Kennamer Room of the Powell Building on campus.

After many Kentuckians answered the call in March to donate blood to the Kentucky Blood Center (KBC), the facility is asking those in the commonwealth who are healthy to roll up their sleeves once again as elective procedures have resumed at hospitals.

A news release states 70 hospitals in the state reported the need of blood donations for upcoming procedures, which were suspended in March because of the coronavirus pandemic. Elective procedure were allowed to restart on Monday.

According to Mandy Brajuha, director of marketing for the KBC, the center aims to see 400 donors every day across sites and mobile collections, but that has been more difficult lately.

"We felt good at 250 (donations), but as surgeries started to ramp back up, we knew we needed to collect more," she said.

And although the demand from local hospitals was down with the cancellations of surgeries, the blood center was also forced to cancel an additional 250 blood drives, lessening its supply.

In terms of blood type, Brajuha said, any person can donate no matter what their blood type is, or even if they don't know theirs.

"We always are most in need of O Negative because it is a universal type," Brajuha said. "… I always tell people the most needed blood type is your blood type. Your blood will not go to waste, and it will definitely be donated no matter what type."

While the coronavirus continues to be a threat, those who want to donate need to make an appointment with the blood center.

Donors are also encouraged to complete their health history questionnaire online (QuickPass) on the day of donation to limit their time at the facility.

Per new state requirements that started Monday, donors are required to wear a face covering when visiting donor centers or mobile blood drives. If they do not have one, one may be provided to them by the facility.

KBC will also take the temperature of all donors as they enter the facility (or mobile blood drive) and during the screening process.

Additionally, new cleaning services have been implemented, and all patient beds have been moved 6-feet apart.

Although the pandemic may stop certain populations from coming to donate, Brajuha hopes it will bring new donors through the door.

"For example, there are some older donors who say while they can't come out now to donate, they will when things are safe again," she said. "And that puts more emphasis on new people in the door."

She encourages those who would typically donate to continue to do so by any means, be it a mobile bus or at the center.

"We were overwhelmed by the support we saw from donors in March,” Bill Reed, Kentucky Blood Center CEO, said. “It’s just as important for those donors to keep this healthy habit going and donate again. Blood has a shelf life, so we need donors to give the gift of life on a frequent basis.”

To make an appointment to donate or to review all of the steps KBC is taking to ensure donor safety during the global pandemic, visit www.kybloodcenter.org. Appointments also can be made by calling 800-775-2522.

And as the coronavirus continues to keep many people inside their homes, the health department is reporting one new case in Madison County Tuesday. That brings the total count to 36 cases.

Twenty-eight of the known cases are said to be recovered.

Reach Taylor Six at 624-6623 or follow her on Twitter @TaylorSixRR.

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