Coalition launches Give Blood Challenge as blood supplies dwindle in Illinois

(The Center Square) – First there was the Ice Bucket Challenge. Now there is the Give Blood Challenge.

Social distancing rules, stay-at-home orders and concerns about COVID-19 have led to a dwindling blood supply because community blood centers collect most of their donations in mobile buses that visited schools, churches and other places where people congregate in large numbers.

Blood supplies are down 40% over this time last year, said Margaret Vaughn, executive director of the Illinois Coalition of Community Blood Centers. So the coalition created the Give Blood Challenge to remind people that they can donate in community blood centers across the state, and people’s lives are depending on them.

“One thing that is increasing is people’s time on social media,” she said. “So what we are encouraging people to do is go online and make an appointment to donate blood. Then take a picture or a screenshot of that and post it on Facebook. Or when you get to the blood center, have someone take your picture donating blood and post it online, and challenge 10 of your friends to do the same.”

Vaughn stressed that blood donation is safe, centers are spacing out chairs and travel to donate blood is permitted under Illinois’ stay-at-home order. The centers are strictly regulated and donors are screened before giving blood and the blood is screened after it is donated.

“It takes about an hour of your time, once you get to the center, and your single donation can save up to three lives,” she said.

“So on behalf of the babies in neonatal units and the cancer patients and the sickle cell patients and the trauma victims all waiting for blood, we’re asking you to please donate,” she said.

Visit www.americasblood.org to find a center and schedule a donation.

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