We Are Blood provides blood to more than 40 Central Texas hospitals and clinics for accident and other trauma victims, cancer patients, and mothers and newborns, among others, said Nick Canedo, We Are Blood's vice president of community engagement.
While the nonprofit remains prepared to meet those daily medical needs, an event such as Saturday's shooting can use up much of the supplier's available blood. Canedo said We Are Blood aims to collect around 200 donations daily, and that last weekend's shooting resulted in the need to use up 160 red cell units and around 30 platelet units on Saturday alone, rapidly wiping out nearly one day's reserves.
"When something unanticipated happens like that, when we’re sending additional donations, which is more than usual than we might have expected, we need to call on the community to help us replenish that inventory," Canedo said. “We’re stressing to the community the importance of making blood donations, keeping your appointments if you’ve got them. ... That way we can get to a real stable level where we feel comfortable again and we know we’re prepared for the worst, but we’re also prepared just for the daily needs of our hospitals.”
Canedo also said We Are Blood has been stocked below its usual levels for much of the past year given the COVID-19 pandemic's effects on scheduling, and the many sites the organization uses for its mobile blood drives such as businesses, churches and schools. And while We Are Blood has seen some increased turnout in the wake of its call for support this week, Canedo said summertime also represents a period when residents may be less available to make donations.
“We’ve been operating with a little less than feels comfortable pretty much consistently throughout the pandemic," he said. "Thankfully we were still in a position to get all of the blood donations needed during Saturday, but it left us very depleted. And when we’re in a very depleted circumstance, we never know what might happen later in the day or as they continue to treat those patients who need the blood transfusion.”
We Are Blood is asking community members for both whole blood donations—which the nonprofit estimates at a visit of 45 minutes to one hour total including 15 minutes of donation time—and platelet donations, estimated at between 70 minutes and two hours total. Whole blood donations can be made every 56 days through We Are Blood, and platelet donations can be made weekly.
Central Texas residents can make donations at any of We Are Blood's three donor centers, including two in Austin and one in Round Rock, in addition to mobile donation drives throughout the area. More information on locations, hours and appointment scheduling may be found on the nonprofit's website.
"We’ve been seeing that increased interest in donation following the word that we’ve been spreading about blood donation after the shooting, but we just hope that we [see] that continued interest throughout the summer," Canedo said.