Santa Maria aims to ‘bridge the gap’ in blood donations

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The city of Santa Maria announced an upcoming blood drive scheduled for June 9, and is encouraging community members of all blood types to sign up to donate.

The pop-up donation center will be located at the Santa Maria Public Library from noon to 4 p.m. and run by Vitalant, a nonprofit blood service provider that supplies blood to local hospitals.
OUT FOR BLOOD Vitalant and the city of Santa Maria are teaming up for a blood drive at a pop-up donation center to make up for pandemic-related supply shortages. - FILE PHOTO
  • FILE PHOTO
  • OUT FOR BLOOD Vitalant and the city of Santa Maria are teaming up for a blood drive at a pop-up donation center to make up for pandemic-related supply shortages.

According to a city press release, local Vitalant centers— in Santa Maria and Santa Barbara—currently only have a two-day supply of multiple blood types, which is “half the sufficient amount needed to treat the typical amounts of patients.”

City of Santa Maria Public Information Manager Mark van de Kamp told the Sun about some of the obstacles that Vitalant has faced during the pandemic in keeping its blood supply up.



“There’s always a need for blood, but the pandemic has disrupted the typical blood donation supply from schools and universities,” van de Kamp explained. “Vitalant used to have … different schools, universities, and colleges that would often have blood drives. But because of COVID-19 impacts, that’s been disrupted.”

Van de Kamp said that decreased ease of access also hampered the usual amount of donations.

“Vitalant’s no longer allowed to have its blood donation bus go out to different areas, so instead they have to have pop-up blood donation rooms. … So that impedes on the ease of going out to do it.” he said. “I think also, with the stay-at-home order, people were reluctant in some cases to go give blood. But it actually is treated as an essential need, and so it’s OK to leave the home to go donate blood.”

Van de Kamp also emphasized that donations are typically used locally, so blood donors can feel good about helping out a fellow community member in need.

The city’s management analyst, Briana Martenies, told the Sun that with blood supplies “at a critically low level,” the city is partnering with Vitalant to “help bridge that gap” between getting people to come out and donate. With the pop-up station on June 9, the city hopes to make it easier for people to donate by providing an additional, safe, and convenient location.

“Everything that we’re being told from the federal government, from our state government, is saying that blood donation during this pandemic is safe,” Martenies said. “Vitaliant is well aware of the safety precautions that need to be taken. … It’s going to be a nice large room, so everyone will be well-spread out during the donation process.”

The city encourages all blood type donations, but is in particular need of donors with type-O negative blood, as these red blood cells can be transfused to anybody. Additionally, donors with type-AB (positive and negative) are needed, as their plasma can be transfused to anybody.

To reserve a time slot as a donor, visit blood4life.org and search for sponsor code 2017. To schedule an appointment, call (805) 542-8500. ∆

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