CORONAVIRUS

University of Iowa hospitals issue urgent call for blood donations

UIHC facing 'critical need' to up 'dangerously low' supply

Collection specialist Shy Rush makes a note after a blood donation at the Mississippi Valley Regional Blood Center mobil
Collection specialist Shy Rush makes a note after a blood donation at the Mississippi Valley Regional Blood Center mobile blood drive in Hiawatha on Friday, June 8, 2018. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)

IOWA CITY — Supplies of donated blood are dwindling nationally in light of the global COVID-19 pandemic that’s kept millions at home — prompting urgent calls for donations from the American Red Cross, regional blood banks, and hospital systems like University of Iowa Health Care.

UIHC, which spent millions scaling its coronavirus response and lost millions more by temporarily halting elective and many scheduled surgeries, now is in dire need of donated blood as it reopens operating rooms, officials reported Thursday.

“Eastern Iowa is now seeing the impact of these shortages locally with University of Iowa Health Care in critical need of donations of all blood types,” according to UIHC officials. “This dangerously low blood supply could potentially impact individuals in need of surgery and other procedures, victims of emergencies such as car accidents, and patients with other medical conditions that require transfusions.”

In a recent urgent American Red Cross appeal for donations to counter blood shortages “as hospitals resume surgical procedures and patient treatments that were temporarily paused” for the COVID-19 pandemic, officials reported hospital demand has surged 30 percent in recent weeks.

But blood drives in many cases and places have remained canceled; blood banks have remained closed; and donors have been wary about venturing out to give, the Red Cross reported.

The University of Iowa DeGowin Blood Center, though, is hosting a series of upcoming blood drives in response to the local need — with one Friday and six more planned through July 1.

It has employed a series of safety measures to ensure donor safety, despite coronavirus fears, like requiring face coverings, conducting health screenings, upping cleaning and sanitization practices, and social distancing.

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Eligible donors, additionally, are urged to schedule an appointment for one of the drive times and dates before giving.

Although the UI blood center is calling for donors of all types, a message on its website notes a specific need for O-positive and O-negative whole blood donors. The center, housed on the main UIHC campus, also is continuing to take whole blood, platelet, and plasma donations — including from recovered COVID-19 patients, as health care providers have been offering the plasma as a treatment to hospitalized coronavirus patients.

UIHC has reported positive outcomes for its COVID-19 patients, which have totaled 233 to date, including 13 currently admitted as inpatients.

For more details about blood-donation requirements, visit https://uihc.org/degowin-blood-center.

The upcoming blood drives will be held at the UI Old Museum of Art at 150 North Riverside Drive in Iowa City on:

Friday, June 12, from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Tuesday, June 16, from 12:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.

Thursday, June 18, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Wednesday, June 24, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Thursday, June 25, from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Tuesday, June 30, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Wednesday, July 1, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Donors can park for free in the reserved spaces on the west side of Lot 28. They must enter through the north entrance and register in Room 150.

Comments: (319) 339-3158; vanessa.miller@thegazette.com

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