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As Blood Donations Remain Critical, Wilmingtonians are Doing Their Part

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Hannah Breisinger
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A Thursday, May 14 blood drive at Trinity United Methodist Church is just one of many recent drives in the area with completely filled appointment slots.

As North Carolina and local governments continue to ease COVID-19 shutdown restrictions, leaders and health experts stress that we’re not in the clear yet. And, with so much uncertainty ahead, the Red Cross says blood donations are still critical.

Fortunately, residents in the Cape Fear region seem to be heeding the call for blood. Two weeks ago, I went online to make a donation with the Red Cross -- and found that all upcoming appointment slots were booked. So, now -- 14 days later -- I’m here at Trinity United Methodist Church -- getting my hemoglobin levels tested, and my temperature taken. 

This drive was organized by Jenni Casteen, a volunteer with the church. She says all 52 appointment slots were quickly filled, with just four no-shows.

“Has anybody had any concerns coming in, about the virus?”

“They have not. Because we're doing the temperatures at the door, hand sanitizer. Everybody has a mask.”

Those health and safety precautions have been implemented at all American Red Cross drives. But that’s not all that's changed in response to the pandemic. Last month, the Red Cross lifted eligibility restrictions for LGBT+ men, as well as donors with variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease and malaria. It’s also announced an initiative to collect plasma from those who have recovered from COVID-19, to help treat other patients with serious cases of the virus. 

For those thinking about donating, Casteen has some words of encouragement:

“It's easy. It's just an easy way to give back, and takes what -- an hour out of your day?”

But if you do end up deciding to do so, plan on scheduling that appointment in advance.