The Blood Bank of Delmarva (BBD) is teaming up with area hospitals and healthcare systems to call attention to the chronic shortage of blood in the region due in part to the COVID-19 pandemic.

At a news conference on Tuesday, November 10, 2020, representatives from ChristianaCare, the Wilmington Veterans Administration Hospital, and A.I. duPont Children's Hospital, voiced their concerns about the blood shortage and the effect on patients ranging from those receiving cancer treatment to victims of trauma.

Dr. Tetsu “Butch” Uejima, Department Chair, Division of Surgical Anesthesiology, Nemours duPont Hospital for Children, said more than ever they need people to make a plan to donate.

"To try to highlight, and educate, and escalate to the public the dire need for blood."

He said life saving organ transplants and cancer treatments at Nemours are threatened.

"We can't do any of this without blood. Blood is really the lifeline for many of these patients."

Marie Forrestal, Director of Donor Recruitment for BBD, said the coronavirus has drastically reduced public opportunities for group blood donations.

"The blood drive they used to go isn't in existence anymore and that's because people are fearful of letting outsiders into their facility."

But Forrestal wants to allay those fears.

"Don't be afraid of us," she said, "we will guide them through it safely."

BBD spokesman Tony Prado said mobile operations are at just 43% of pre-pandemic levels.

"That's significant because forty-percent of the blood we collect daily usually comes from a mobile blood drive that's conveniently held near you," Prado.

"The big one is the schools, namely high schools and colleges. We did have a blood drive last week at St. Marks High School but that's one out of what, 35 high schools in the state of Delaware? We need 350 people a day to donate blood."

To try and offset the drop in mobile donations, the BBD has expanded the hours at their donor centers including every other Sunday.

Everyone in attendance agreed the uncertainty over the pandemic's path heading into the winter months makes for a particularly dangerous situation.

"It's certainly critical, it's a critical shortage right now," said Dr. Sherry Sixta, ChristianaCare Associate Director of Trauma. 

Sixta wanted to remind those who donate that it might be someone they know who is on the receiving end of that donation.

"It is, it's your neighbors, your community members, the people you go to church with, people that you know at work, so it's everybody," said Sixta.

"As a trauma surgeon, and also as an avid blood donor, I see the actual results right there," said Sixta. "I give that unit of blood and then I go to work and I also transfuse that unit of blood and I see the difference that it makes in the life indeed that it saves."

TrafficWatch & News Reporter for WDEL/WSTW 1989 - 1993 and back again for Round Two starting in February, 2015 after spending a decade in Chicago and another six years in Boston.