As our neighbors deal with the impacts of rapidly intensifying Hurricane Ian, The Blood Connection (TBC) is joining preparedness efforts by sending blood products to blood centers in the storm’s path.
TBC has sent more than 1,000 blood donations to blood centers in Florida already. TBC began preparing those blood products as early as Tuesday morning as the orders poured in, working quickly to get them to their destinations before the storm causes travel issues. Local hospitals are also stocking up ahead of the expected impacts over the weekend. It is essential that blood donors replenish the supply now, to ensure lifesaving blood products are available when hospitals, or blood centers in Florida, call.
Even from miles offshore, the storm is already affecting the local blood supply. TBC is experiencing blood drive cancellations across its service areas, as remnants of Hurricane Ian are expected to bring high winds and heavy rain. Bloodmobiles cannot travel when winds hit a certain speed; heavy rain could cause travel issues for TBC staff and donors; and donor turnout typically drops when the weather is bad. With blood donor turnout already lower than normal, the impending storm will exacerbate the issue.
As a member of The Blood Emergency Readiness Corps (BERC), TBC is currently on-call to send blood units to partner blood centers, should a natural disaster or other emergency require additional blood products. Though the BERC has not yet been activated, blood centers in the impacted regions are already asking for help to stock their shelves. The expected storm damage and power outages in Florida could lead to a disruption of the local blood supply, as donation centers are not able to operate, and many people are not able to travel to donate blood. Though not part of BERC at the time, TBC helped to supplement the blood supply in New Orleans last year for nearly a month, after Hurricane Ida caused widespread power outages and damage across southern Louisiana. TBC also sent blood in the wake of the tornadoes that swept through the Midwest earlier this year.
“The Blood Connection is no stranger to helping our neighbors in need,” said Marie Forrestal, Vice President of Donor Resources for The Blood Connection. “We’re asking our community to share in that effort and help before the storm hits. We can’t help if we’re not prepared, and it’s the blood on the shelves that saves lives. You never know when our region could be the one in need next.”
TBC supplies blood to more than 100 hospital partners across the Carolinas and Georgia. TBC operates 13 donation centers and deploys more than 50 blood mobiles daily, to make blood donation comfortable and convenient for those who answer the call. To find a center or mobile donation opportunity nearby, go to thebloodconnection.org/donate.