COVID-19: Texas Blood Institute Urges Donations Amid Concerns

Blood donation can’t wait.

Blood donation is safe and critically important, despite concerns surrounding coronavirus (COVID-19). Texas Blood Institute is, as always, committed to safety for our donors, patients, and communities, and we urge you to keep your scheduled appointments and continue to donate blood.

The Food & Drug Administration (FDA) reports no cases of COVID-19 transmitted through blood transfusion, and respiratory viruses generally are not known to be transmitted by blood transfusion.

“We need people to start turning out in force to give blood,” said Peter Marks, M.D., Ph.D., director of the FDA.

Find a blood drive.

Texas Blood Institute is following recommendations and guidelines set forth by the FDA, the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) and AABB (formerly American Association of Blood Banks). Texas Blood Institute is committed to maintaining the safest standards for blood collection, testing and transfusion. Our donor centers and blood drives practice rigorous safety and cleanliness standards. As Texas Blood Institute monitors this rapidly developing situation, we will immediately inform the community about any changes in procedures or processes.

Texas Blood Institute’s donor centers and mobile blood drives have instituted additional cleaning methods, decontaminating work and common areas and equipment frequently. In addition, donor centers and mobile blood drives are being adapted to allow for social distancing. All staff and donors will also have their temperatures taken before starting work or entering the facility, to ensure only healthy individuals are present. We are limiting the number of donors in the donor area, to allow for social distancing. If the donor area is full, please give us your cell phone number and we will call you when you’re ready to enter.

In an abundance of caution, we ask that donors refrain from giving blood until a later time if, in the past 28 days, they have been diagnosed with or are suspected of having COVID-19; cared for, lived with, or had close contact with individuals diagnosed with COVID-19; or who traveled to areas with high rates of infection as defined by the Centers for Disease Control.

“Although COVID-19 is a new virus and more research is needed on how it spreads, current strategies for preventing and minimizing acute respiratory illnesses – including COVID-19 and the seasonal flu – remain relevant and timely,” said Tuan Le, M.D., chief medical officer of Texas Blood Institute.

Dr. Le stresses:

  • Practice cough & sneeze etiquette
  • Stay home when sick
  • Clean hands often with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer or soap and water for at least 20 seconds
  • Avoid touching your face after touching surfaces

As COVID-19 and resulting concerns continue to spread, additional challenges to the blood supply have occurred, including canceled and postponed blood drives. Texas Blood Institute depends on 1,200 donors per day to support the inventory needed for patients in all major hospitals in the Texoma region.  

“Blood is a perishable product and we need constant donations not only to meet our community needs, but in case of local and national emergencies,” said John Armitage, M.D., president and CEO of Texas Blood Institute. “We urge healthy adults to continue their regular blood donations so the lifesaving supply can be maintained for our local patients who depend on blood products during treatment for cancer, traumatic injuries and other life-threatening conditions.”


“During routine blood donation screening, we ask donors if they are feeling well and healthy at the time of their donation,” said Dr. Le. “We always ask that donors who are not feeling well refrain from giving blood until they’re healthy.”

Blood donation typically takes only about an hour, and one donation saves up to three lives. Appointments can be made by calling 1-877-340-8777 or clicking here or visiting our Wichita Falls donor center.

*To give blood, 16 year olds must weigh at least 125 pounds and provide signed parental permission; 17 year olds must weigh at least 125 pounds; 18+ year olds must weigh at least 110 pounds

We're committed to your safety. We've instituted additional cleaning efforts, using EPA-approved cleaning solutions in high-touch, high-traffic areas. We take the temperaturs of all staff and donors entering any donation area to ensure they don't have a fever. Donor centers and mobile blood drives have been adjusted to allow space for social distancing.















Follow Texas Blood Institute’s social media platforms for developments on the situation:

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

What is COVID-19?

COVID-19 is an acute respiratory illness caused by a new coronavirus that originated in China in December 2019. The illness causes symptoms like fever, cough and shortness of breath, but can be severe in some at-risk populations.

How do I keep from getting COVID-19?

COVID-19 is generally thought to be spread from person-to-person through respiratory droplets like the common flu, so observing everyday preventative actions for respiratory diseases is critical: stay home if you’re sick, practice good sneeze/cough etiquette, wash your hands often with soap and water or an alcohol-based sanitizer, and regularly clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

Will I be safe while donating blood?

Yes. Although we collect blood and blood products, we’re not a medical facility and ask only healthy donors to visit these locations to donate.

Is COVID-19 dangerous for blood donors?

No, the CDC has found no evidence that COVID-19 is spread through the blood or blood donations.

Can COVID-19 be transmitted through blood donation?

No, the CDC has found no evidence that COVID-19 can be transmitted either through a blood exposure or a blood donation. In similar respiratory illness outbreaks like SARS or MERS, no evidence of transmissions through blood products was seen.

Do you screen blood for COVID-19?

We don’t test for this illness, as the FDA has no approved screening test for blood donors and the illness is not shown to be transmitted through blood. Our testing laboratory is on the forefront of technology and conducts more than a dozen tests on each sample to ensure its safety.

Do you have safety procedures in place for your donor centers and blood drives?

Our operating procedures meet strict FDA regulations and OSHA standards to ensure workplace safety. We encourage all staff, volunteers and donors to take routine preventative actions – as recommended by the CDC – to help prevent the spread of acute respiratory illnesses, like the seasonal flu and COVID-19. We've added additional cleaning procedures, shifted our donation areas to allow for social distancing and are taking the temperatures of each donor and employee who enter our donor areas to ensure they’re feeling well.

Should donors wait to donate blood because of COVID-19?

No, please donate blood or platelets as you’re able. Blood is a perishable product that requires continual donations to ensure a healthy supply.

What is the organization doing about COVID-19?

Your Blood Institute’s executive management and medical staff have been monitoring the rapidly changing situation of COVID-19 since the first reported case in December 2019. We have been using resources within our blood organization’s networks of BCA (Blood Centers of America), ABC (America’s Blood Centers), and AABB (formerly American Associations of Blood Banks). In addition, we have been monitoring situation reports from the CDC and WHO, along with updates from the state public health departments in Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Texas to track the local, regional, and national developments of COVID-19.

Who do I call if I have questions about the coronavirus or blood donation?

If you have questions about COVID-19 or the state’s response, please contact the Texas Department of State Health by calling 211 and choosing option 6. If donors have questions about their planned blood donation, please contact our customer service line at 877-340-8777.

Has anything like this ever happened before? What were the results?

In the past, acute respiratory illness outbreaks like SARS (2002), H1N1 flu (2009), and MERS (2012) were contained due to prevention measures, public health interventions, medical detection, isolation and care of patients. In these outbreaks, no evidence was seen of blood transmission by the viruses. COVID-19 is an acute respiratory illness caused by a new coronavirus, so research is ongoing into this virus’s specific transmission and effects in humans.

Are you observing social distancing?

Donor centers and mobile blood drives have been adjusted to allow space for social distancing. On bloodmobiles, staff are placing donors to allow for maximum distance between visitors. In addition, we strongly encourage appointments to be made to help us manage how many donors are present at one time. Donors can also wait in their vehicles after checking in with staff, if they prefer.

How are you making sure staff and donors are healthy?

As always, we ask only healthy staff and donors to come to our centers and mobile units. In addition, we screen all donor services staff at the beginning of their shift, taking temperatures to ensure no one has a fever or feels ill. All donors will also have their temperature taken before entering the blood donor area, so only healthy donors enter.

Should we be donating blood right now?

Yes! Donating blood is an essential health care activity and is critical to avoiding a blood supply crisis. For those wanting to help but don’t know where to start, donating blood is a safe and easy way to protect our communities in a time of need. As U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams said, “You can still go out and give blood. We’re worried about potential blood shortages in the future. Social distancing does not have to mean social disengagement.”

WEATHER ALERT: Severe weather impacts blood supply

May 21, 2019 - Devastating flooding, tornadoes and canceled blood drives across our region have severely impacted Texas Blood Institute’s supply of lifesaving blood.  Blood donors are needed urgently to help rebuild the inventory.  The need for blood is constant and our crews must still transport blood to save patients’ lives.  Blood must be available, and on our shelves, before and after storms hit.

Please consider taking just an hour of your time to give blood at ourdonor center.  Or make your lifesaving appointment now at yourbloodinstitute.org or by calling 877-340-8777

WEEKEND AND MEMORIAL DAY HOURS:
Wichita Falls, 3709 Gregory St., Suite 109
Saturday, May 25 CLOSED
Sunday, May 26, 8am-11am
Monday, May 27, 8:30am-11:30am

WEEKEND BLOOD DRIVES:
Saturday, May 25

11:00a - 4:00p
Buzula Furniture Outlet - 716 I-40 West, Amarillo
 
11:00a - 4:00p
Wichita Falls Employee Blood Drive - 3709 Gregory Street Suite 109, Wichita Falls

Sunday, May 26
9:00a - 11:30a
Hillside Christian Church - Amarillo Northwest - 600 Tascosa Road, Amarillo

Alert: Emergency Blood Shortage; Donors Urgently Needed

March 11, 2019 – Texas Blood Institute is experiencing an emergency blood shortage and is issuing an urgent call for donors of all blood types.

Several days of winter weather, blood drive cancellations, and widespread illness, including a flu outbreak, have all contributed to a sharp downturn in donations.  Levels have reached a less than one-day supply. Typically, Texas Blood Institute maintains a three- to five-day supply for local hospitals.

“Because close to a quarter of our blood collections comes from school blood drives, school closings can be devastating to our inventory.  With Spring Break around the corner, our schools and universities will be out again, and many people will be leaving the state for vacation. So, it is imperative to replenish the supply right away,” said John Armitage, M.D., president and CEO of Texas Blood Institute.  “We are calling on all healthy adults to take about an hour of their time to give blood for our friends and neighbors in need.”

Texas Blood Institute encourages all healthy adults, age 16 and older, to donate blood as soon as they can. * 

Donors may visit Texas Blood Institute’s convenient donor center in Wichita Falls.  They can find a mobile drive in their area by clicking here, or they can make an appointment by calling 1-877-340-8777

Every two seconds, someone needs blood.  One donation saves up to three lives.  Volunteer donors with Texas Blood Institute exclusively provide every drop of blood needed for patients in eight major hospitals in the Texoma region. These patients rely on blood to survive an emergency injury or illness, or for ongoing treatment for cancer and other life-threatening diseases and conditions.

Texas Blood Institute has developed “Thank the Donor,” a unique web application that allows blood recipients to send messages of appreciation, photos, or videos to their individual blood donors.  To view messages from patients who are given hope, health, and healing through blood donation, please visit drawing-together.org to see their heartfelt appreciations.

Look for updates on this alert on Texas Blood Institute’s social media platforms. 

*16-year-olds must weigh at least 125 pounds and provide signed parental permission; 17-year-olds must weigh at least 125 pounds; 18+-year-olds must weigh at least 110 pounds

Donors Needed After Houston-area High School Shooting

May 18, 2018 - Our thoughts and prayers are with Sante Fe, Texas, in the wake of Friday’s school shooting.

Texas Blood Institute has been asked to assist by sending O-negative blood units to blood centers in the Houston area.  Although we have been requesting help from donors recently to supply our own hospitals, we must stay prepared to provide resources in the event of a tragedy like this.

We are urging our donors to help by giving blood.  Together we can take care of our patients and support our neighbors.

Appointments to give blood are not required but can be made by clicking here to find a blood drive near you or calling (877) 340-8777.

Or make an appointment at our Wichita Falls donor center.

Global Blood Fund Receives $25,000 Donation to Fight Bleeding Deaths

April 30, 2018-  Global Blood Fund (GBF), a 501(c)(3) charity founded in 2008 with support from Texas Blood Institute received a generous $25,000 donation from Terumo BCT to combat the world transfusion crisis. 

Terumo BCT, a global leader in blood component, therapeutic apheresis and cellular technologies, is committed to advancing blood safety throughout the world.

The donated funds will be utilized for various projects to improve transfusion care in emergent nations.  Among its programs, GBF re-homes donated blood banking equipment, delivers and sponsors training programs, and supports efforts to reduce the stark inequalities in access to safe blood that exist between higher- and lower-income countries.

“We are very grateful to Terumo BCT for its leadership in supporting better transfusion care for the majority of people across the globe who cannot be assured that blood will be available for them when it is needed,” said John Armitage, M.D., CEO of Texas Blood Institute and Chair of GBF. “This gift will help fight the annual deaths of hundreds of thousands of women hemorrhaging during childbirth and young children under age five succumbing to malaria, injuries, other afflictions.”

Since its inception in 2008, GBF has supported transfusion-related initiatives in more than 40 countries in Africa, Latin America and Asia.  In 2017, the value of equipment donated approached $2 million and included multiple bloodmobiles sent to Africa and Mexico. Other recent endeavors include pan-African donor management workshops run in collaboration with the Africa Society for Blood Transfusion (AfSBT) and the opening of a rural blood bank in Laos.

“Terumo BCT and the Global Blood Fund share a commitment to serving patients by unlocking the potential of blood across the globe,” said Michael Lees, Terumo BCT, Vice President, Commercial, North America. “We are honored to support GBF’s work serving those patients most in need, in parts of the world that are still developing their blood transfusion capabilities across Africa, Latin America and Asia. Terumo BCT is proud to support GBF’s work to directly improve patient’s access to safe blood around the world.”

The Global Blood Fund is a US and UK registered non-profit with a mission to improve the safety and availability of transfusion care in resource-poor communities worldwide.  Since 2008 it has provided equipment and training to build donor recruitment and collection capacity so that blood can save lives wherever and whenever it is needed.  Please visit globalbloodfund.org for further details.

Terumo BCT, a global leader in blood component, therapeutic apheresis and cellular technologies, is the only company with the unique combination of apheresis collections, manual and automated whole blood processing and pathogen reduction technologies. We believe in the potential of blood to do even more for patients than it does today. This belief inspires our innovation and strengthens our collaboration with customers. Learn more at terumobct.com.

Texas Blood Institute Issues Urgent Call for Blood Donors

February 22, 2018 – The winter weather, hazardous road conditions, closings and cancellations that affected the region this week are critically impacting Texas Blood Institute’s supply of life-saving blood. Now that the weather has cleared, Texas Blood Institute urgently needs donors of all blood types to give blood as soon as they can to help replenish the supply.*

Over the last three days, only about half of the donors needed to maintain the blood supply have been able to donate.  As a result, Texas Blood Institute must recover from that deficit while still maintaining our regular blood needs.

“The urgency for patients is going to continue for the next several days until our inventory rebounds,” said Dr. John Armitage, M.D., president and CEO of Texas Blood Institute.  “We know we can rely on our donors who have the reputation of having a heart for helping neighbors in need.”

Due to the urgency of the situation, Texas Blood Institute has extended its hours at the Wichita Falls donor center.  The center will be open until 6:00 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 23 and until 4:00 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 24.  Donors can also give at any mobile drive.  Search for drives in your area by clicking here. 

As a non-profit blood center, Texas Blood Institute’s donors provide every drop of blood needed for patients in eight hospitals in the Texoma region.

Appointments are not required but can be made by calling Texas Blood Institute at 877-340-8777 or clicking here.

*16 year olds must weigh at least 125 pounds and provide signed parental permission; 17 year olds must weigh at least 125 pounds; 18+ year olds must weigh at least 110 pounds

Flu Epidemic Impacting Blood Supply, Healthy Blood Donors Needed Now

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE ─  The flu epidemic affecting Texas is negatively impacting the blood supply.  Because so many of our regular donors are ill, or taking care of sick family members, they’ve been unable to give blood.  Additionally, the widespread flu is forcing school closures, and parents are unable to keep their blood donation appointments.  All of this puts even more strain on the blood supply.

Texas Blood Institute is urging all healthy adults, ages sixteen and up*, to give blood.  Blood donors who have been diagnosed with flu should wait seven days since their last symptoms to give blood.  Donors may give blood the same day they receive a flu vaccine.

Beginning February 1st, all Texas Blood Institute blood donors will receive their choice of a new, trendy t-shirt in one of three featured colors, “Strong” olive, “Bold” maroon, or “Fearless” teal. 

“The flu has hit our state particularly hard, but the need for blood remains constant, and there is no substitute,” said John Armitage, M.D., president and CEO of Texas Blood Institute. “That’s why we are calling on all donors who are able to give blood, or those who have never given before, to stop by one of our donor centers or mobile blood drives.  If you have recovered from the flu, or been unaffected by it, we urge you to use your good health to save lives today.”

Only ten percent of people in the United States who are eligible to give blood actually do.  Blood donation takes only about an hour, and each donation can save the lives of up to three patients. 

As part of the nation’s 9th largest non-profit blood center, Texas Blood Institute serves eight hospitals in the Texoma region.  Appointments to give blood aren’t required but can be made by calling 877.340.8777 or clicking here to schedule an appointment online.

Be sure to like and follow Texas Blood Institute on Facebook for more information on the flu and blood donation:

*16-year-olds must weigh at least 125 pounds and provide signed parental permission; 17-year-olds must weigh at least 125 pounds; 18+ year-olds must weigh at least 110 pounds

 

Unprecedented Flooding, Hurricane Harvey Prompt Immediate Need for Blood Donors

(Updated) August 28, 2017 ─ Catastrophic flooding in Houston and the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey are prompting Texas Blood Institute to issue an immediate call for blood donors of all blood types.  Blood centers in Houston and other affected areas are unable to collect blood, and Texas Blood Institute is taking part in the nationwide relief effort to help shore up the life-saving blood supply.

Texas Blood Institute has already sent 300 units of blood and 25 units of platelets to areas affected by flooding, and has been asked to provide 400 more units this week.  This can only be done if generous donors step up and become part of the disaster response. A major problem blood centers in Southeast Texas are facing is transporting blood to hospitals.  Texas Blood Institute is working with a Dallas-based blood center to help transport the blood to hospitals and patients who need it.

“Blood centers affected by this disaster could be shut down for days or weeks,” said John Armitage, M.D., President and CEO of Texas Blood Institute. “Texas Blood Institute is ready to help our neighbors dealing with this unprecedented flooding in Houston, and we know that we can count on our donors to make the commitment to give blood or platelets.”

Donors can give blood at Texas Blood Institute’s donor center in Wichita Falls at 3709 Gregory Street, or at any mobile blood drive.

Texas Blood Institute is joining blood centers across the U.S. in the flood relief efforts, as part of AABB’s Interorganizational Task Force on Domestic Disasters and Acts of Terrorism, which ensures safe and adequate blood product inventories are in place at all times in preparation for disasters and assesses the need for collections and/or transportation of blood should a disaster occur.

Texas Blood Institute is part of the 9th largest, non-profit blood center in the United States.  It relies solely on volunteer blood donors each day to serve all major hospitals in the Texoma region. 

Appointments to give blood aren’t required but can be made by calling 877.340.8777 or booking online.

*16-year-olds must weigh at least 125 pounds and provide signed parental permission; 17-year-olds must weigh at least 125 pounds; 18+ year-olds must weigh at least 110 pounds

WEATHER ALERT- Tropical Storm Cindy: Texas Blood Institute Assists With Blood Need

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

June 21, 2017 ─ As Tropical Storm Cindy threatens millions of people throughout the Gulf Coast, Texas Blood Institute is answering a call for additional life-saving blood from centers that service the areas threatened by this powerful storm.

Texas Blood Institute immediately shipped more than 300 total units of blood to blood centers that serve New Orleans, other areas of Louisiana and parts of the Gulf Coast region in Texas.  The majority of the blood was sent to New Orleans, for critical needs in case of medical emergencies during the storm.

“It is not unusual for the Texas Blood Institute to be contacted when there are natural disasters in our country,” said John Armitage, M.D., president and CEO of Texas Blood Institute. “Because of the generosity of our own blood donors, we can provide blood to our neighbors when it’s needed.”

Texas Blood Institute depends solely on volunteer blood donors to serve all major hospitals in the Texoma region.

Anyone age 16 and older, and in generally good health, can typically give blood.* To schedule an appointment to give blood, call 1-877-340-8777, or visit txbi.org. Walk-ins are always welcome.

*16 year olds must weigh at least 125 pounds and provide signed parental permission; 17 year olds must weigh at least 125 pounds; 18+ year olds must weigh at least 110 pounds
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June 14 is World Blood Donor Day

June 2, 2017 - World Blood Donor Day is proclaimed on June 14 by the World Health Organization and AABB. World Blood Donor Day is recognized by hundreds of blood centers around the world, including Texas Blood Institute, TBI.

“We encourage everyone to acknowledge World Blood Donor Day with the selfless act of blood donation,” said John Armitage, M.D., Texas Blood Institute president and CEO.  “We seldom take time to think about the life-saving difference a secure blood supply makes.  Countries around the world and even other states in our nation are not as fortunate as we are to have loyal blood donors.”

Of those eligible to donate blood, less than 10 percent give annually. Yet, people who are healthy and 16 years or older*, can typically donate. Blood can be given every 56 days. Texas Blood Institute provides every drop of blood needed by patients in some 8 medical facilities across the state.

Schedule your life-saving blood donation today at a donor center or mobile drive near you. 


However, any donor can forgo the T-shirt offered in appreciation for giving.  In turn, Texas Blood Institute, TBI will make a monetary donation of similar value to Global Blood Fund, a 501(c)(3) charity organization that procures blood center supplies to developing countries to maintain a safe blood supply. It’s a chance to ‘doubly give’ to those who need the life-saving gift of blood worldwide. Donors may also text “BLOOD” to 52000 to text $10 to Global Blood Fund.

Most recently, Global Blood Fund has donated remodeled bloodmobiles to Sri Lanka and Mexico, and is arranging to send bloodmobiles to four other countries so that donors who have never had access before can give blood.  In late May, blood bags and other center supplies were distributed in the country of Ghana in Africa.

* To give blood, 16 year olds must weigh at least 125 and provide signed parental permission, 17 year olds must weigh at least 125 pounds, 18+ year olds must weigh at least 110 pounds.
For Text 2 Give terms and conditions, visit globalbloodfund.org/help/Text-2-Give.

Bob Grant