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Troy University, American Red Cross to hold blood drive to address shortage during COVID-19 Coronavirus

Barbara Patterson, director of student involvement and leadership at Troy University, still remembers the university’s blood drive of Sept. 12, 2001.

The drive had already been scheduled – then two planes struck the Twin Towers in New York City, shocking the world and causing a great need for blood in the US.

“People always come out in times of need,” Patterson said. “That’s what the American people do; they respond. When I got (to the blood drive), people were already lined up out the doors before the American Red Cross had even arrived to set up. I was so touched by the outpouring of support the Troy Community gave and I think (COVID-19) is just another example.”

As people have been ordered to keep a social distance of six feet from each other and avoid large gatherings, and with most Troy Unviersity students gone, Patterson had called the Red Cross to cancel the drive.

“They said ‘Please, please don’t’ cancel,’” Patterson said. “We’re regrouping and making it a community blood drive; we’re trying to encourage people to give.”

Concern about the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus has led to an unprecedented amount of blood drive cancellations throughout the country, creating a “severe” blood shortage, according to the Red Cross.

In an effort to address this issue, Troy University’s Office of Student Involvement is teaming with the Red Cross for a blood drive Tuesday, March 24 and Wednesday, March 25 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Trojan Center Ballrooms.

Donors should pre-register at https://www.redcrossblood.org/give.html/drive-results?zipSponsor=troyu to reserve a time.

“This is the right thing for us to do,” Patterson said. “We want to ensure the community that this is a safe event, and we also want to encourage them to come to the Trojan Center and help if they can. The Red Cross explained to us the need for this, and it is very real.”

In a White House press conference Thursday, U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams urged Americans to give blood, emphasizing that donating blood is safe even in the current environment.

“As an emergency preparedness organization, the Red Cross has also taken additional steps to ensure the safety of staff and donors at each Red Cross blood drive,” said Elizabeth Hutchinson, senior account manager for American Red Cross Biomedical Services.

Among the precautions being taken:

  • The Red Cross only collects blood from individuals who are healthy and feeling well at the time of donation – and who meet other eligibility requirements, available at RedCrossBlood.org.
  • The Red Cross is now pre-screening all individuals by checking their temperature before they enter any Red Cross blood drive or donation center, including staff and volunteers.
  • At each blood drive and donation center, Red Cross employees follow thorough safety protocols, including wearing gloves, routinely wiping down donor-touched areas, using sterile collection sets for every donation, and preparing the arm for donation with an aseptic scrub.
  • Additional spacing has been implemented within each blood drive set up to incorporate social distancing measures between donation beds and stations within the blood drive.

“As of March 18, we’ve had over 300 blood drives, representing over 120,000 blood donations, cancelled,” Hutchinson said. “We need your help ensuring we have a sufficient blood supply to support hospital patients in Alabama and across the country.”