Edgewood United Church in East Lansing will reopen for a few hours next Friday, April 24, to host a blood drive, allowing community members to help save lives during the pandemic.
Across the United States, social distancing measures have complicated holding blood drives, as they often bring large groups of people in contact with each other. The American Red Cross and other organizations have encouraged would-be donors to make appointments to limit the crowds.
ELi spoke to Ada Kidd, who has organized blood drives at Edgewood for about ten years. In the past, the church has held three blood drives annually, in January, April, and September. Members of the congregation have traditionally made up the bulk of volunteers and donors.
But like other places of worship, Edgewood United Church has closed its doors, respecting calls for social distancing.
Kidd said the church decided to open its doors since blood drives save lives. Kidd explained that she has long told donors that they are giving the gift of life: “One pint of blood is used to help three different people.”
According to Dr. Nigel Paneth, an MSU physician and epidemiologist, donated blood often assists people in surgeries and those who suffered accidents. It is also necessary to help mothers who lose significant blood during childbirth. Shortages of blood put these people at risk.
At this drive, The Red Cross will take over the work that volunteers have previously done, such as setup, cleanup, and providing snacks. The organization will also sanitize the area before and after use.
Blood donations will be by appointment only, to respect social distancing measures, and currently, all 28 appointment slots are full.
But don’t give up: Although Edgewood’s blood drive is currently at capacity, those interested in donating blood can find out when and where they can help through the Lansing Red Cross.
Donors during the pandemic should expect additional screenings and to have their temperature taken. While masks are sometimes provided, Kidd recommends donors bring their own if possible.
Kidd also provided useful advice for anyone considering giving blood during this time of shortage. Donors should drink fluids like water and juice, avoid diuretics like coffee, and eat iron-rich foods. This ensures that hemoglobin levels are high enough to qualify for a donation and keeps donors from fainting.
If you have any signs of the coronavirus, including fever or cough, stay home to keep others safe. You can always try again to donate when you are healthy. If you are seeking a test for COVID-19, click here.