Blood Banks In USA Facing Shortages, With Lowest Levels Of Donations In 10 Years

Blood Banks In USA Facing Shortages, With Lowest Levels Of Donations In 10 Years

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hear from one person from american red cross one from the memorial blood center and then i thought i could have someone from the different regions speak we have um we have in duluth we have both dan williams with the red cross and angela anglom with memorial blood centers maybe you guys could tell us what's going on in the northland i actually saw a paper from a small paper from up there saying that they were looking for blood donators donations and then i also we also have with us um kevin muir um executive director with the eastern north dakota and northwestern minnesota chapter in fargo so be good to hear what's going on up there um and then we have melanie cheetah executive director of the american red cross southeast chapter in rochester so i thought it'd be good to gather people from different parts of the state and then and anyone who doesn't talk at the beginning i'll ask you some questions so you get the the short end of the stick somehow um so i um want to again thank everyone it's wonderful that all these experts came together and before we dive in the conversation i just want to thank all of you for being on the front lines as you have and for your volunteers and for the medical professionals you work with every day we are seeing consequences of the pandemic everywhere we look including at our state's blood banks and hospitals rely on community no donations for their blood supply but right now minnesota's uh blood bank donations are at a ten year low um compounding that we're heading into a time of the year when blood donations tend to drop off anyway right after the holidays where it's cold in our part of the country and that's one of the reasons january is national blood donor month because it's typically the time of year when blood donations drop despite needs still being high i'm going to change his laptop a little so i can see you guys better sorry about this there we are okay there and it's a time when um we see a change um and a decrease and so it's a good month to have to have national blood donation month so what do we know well we know that the american red cross of minnesota and the dakotas region report that donations are down 10 since the start of the pandemic and the cold weather busy schedules uh the omicron and what we've seen uh recently in the last few months have made it harder to regain the supply that's been lost and we all see as the mayor of duluth says the lighthouse on the horizon as we're seeing more and more data coming out uh that while the omicron is more contagious it's also less lethal although we also know that people have no who have not been vaccinated tend to get much more serious cases of it so those are the facts but all of that has led to more need for donations and less people donating it so the way to think about the shortage is that every two seconds someone in the u.s is in need of blood or platelets every two seconds i had this happen when i had my hip replaced way back i didn't think i was going to need any uh blood but i couldn't get the the numbers up and that was the only way for them to get me out of the hospital so um i know how important this can be typically our hospitals have three to five days of blood available if not more right now they are down to a one day supply so that's why you see this cry across the state for more blood donations and planning ahead for pre-scheduled surgeries and other procedures has truly helped our hospitals to get through this difficult difficult time when we have a shortage of medical personnel for various reasons including retirements including uh what i consider a problem is that we're not increasing the flow of people from other countries that can help out and that something else i think could be of great help in our hospitals but right now uh what's happening is they have to plan ahead because we're down on staff so it makes it even more important that they have the blood donation so they can plan ahead and when medical emergencies strike we need to make sure they have the supply to respond to them so the good news is that we can all help solve this problem by donating blood one donation can save up to three lives no matter what your blood type some centers are even providing uh incentive the red cross is holding a drawing for super bowl tickets i'm sure everyone as last year will have to be vaccinated and offering gift cards the memorial blood centers is giving out rewards through a donor loyalty program and so if people go to their website which is redcrossblood.org and mbc.org for the memorial blood centers you can get your appointment so that's what's happening and i know people have questions and i will about how safe people can be what are the precautions taken to give blood um and the like um as we look at something we have to deal with on top of everything else uh but i know in minnesota we're a hearty bunch with strong blood uh and so we're up for helping and so with that i think i'll start with tanya teasley uh with the american red cross of minnesota and dakotas tanya uh thank you so much senator so um the american red cross actually supplies 40 percent of the nation's blood supply and i'm relatively new in this role so that was something new that i learned once i joined here and as you mentioned uh since the pandemic started we have experienced a 10 decline in the number of donors who've been donating blood um out of concerns uh health concerns for themselves etc and we are now at a place um where as you mentioned we are the lowest point in our inventory that we've had in more than a decade and um we typically like to have that five-day supply in our inventory and you mentioned that we're down to one day there have been times in the past several weeks where we have been down to less than a one day supply in our blood inventory so that's how critical it is we need donors of all blood types particularly type o blood which is the ones that hospitals use the most but we also need platelet donations etc and there are some patients who are requiring transfusions either for planned elective surgeries or for other transfusion events who are not going to be able to get blood and that's how critical this is i know um uh in my own personal situation a number of years ago uh when one of my children was born he was in the neonatal intensive care unit for several months and had several procedures that required transfusions and that was a situation that was so emotional and so stressful when there was blood available and i cannot imagine what people are going through today when procedures like that have to be postponed uh because of lack of blood supply available to them uh so that's why i appreciate your taking the time center to bring awareness to the critical nature of this issue okay very good well thank you i don't know do you want to add anything david is the board chair where are you yes yes senator thank you uh for having me um yeah i wear a couple hats one is as board chair for the twin cities chapter which i see firsthand how our staff and all our volunteers work hard to make things happen ideally collecting blood but also see it on the hospital then and as you spoke to and as tonya spoke to we're having to prioritize surgery that's something we haven't done in the past in the united states you know obviously we have a ample blood supply but we have not had to prioritize surgeries before and that's new and with the pandemic and the way things are going we don't know where the end of this is so at several hospitals i work at that's that's very important the other piece of it is is there's per certain populations who need more blood than others you spoke to the ones who are the accident victims and that one of the things the red cross has prioritized this year is a sickle cell and sickle cell there's about a hundred thousand um african americans black americans who need blood at any given time and that blood supply is going down as well so we're actually making a push to certain populations to make sure we get that blood in in the in the work stream but yeah it's amazing how we're having to adapt and the things we're trying to do um we're kind of doing it on the fly we're finding out the best way to make new things happen so appreciate your interest in this okay very good well thank you thank you for your work um and thanks for pointing out that we also have targeted needs as well nancy uh medical director at memorial blood centers as well as jed i don't know which one of you wants to wants to go first here i jud why don't you go ahead and take the lead on this because you've been very involved with this problem i know all right okay chad great so i wear multiple hats i'm the medical director of blood centers in minnesota lincoln and omaha nebraska kansas city but also the transfusion service director along with nancy at both hennepin and minneapolis-st paul children's but in addition i'm on the advisory committee for blood and tissue safety and availability and the chair of that committee is dr claudia cohn who also happens to be the chief medical officer of the american association of blood banks and oh by the way one of our customers as transfusion service director at university of minnesota so i hope your uh group will talk with claudia as well uh because she truly has a national uh view as well as uh local view i am honored to say that at least memorial's direct customers are having a 99.5 uh plus fill rate uh so at least our customers are are doing pretty well proving the point that in minnesota our women are strong men good looking and blood donors are above average that said it is a national crisis and and we do share with our sister blood centers in rhode island new york uh kansas city uh nebraska uh where things are are certainly uh uh more challenging basically before covid half of our blood was collected at fixed sites and half was collected by going to schools to churches to businesses during the height of when you would go to congregate you would go to congregate places and you those and we don't see as much of that right now yeah yeah and so high school blood drives were canceled they're just sort of restarting but aren't quite back up to where they were businesses with many businesses working people working from home there's certainly just less people there to collect from and so we've been highly dependent whether it's the red cross or us on fixed site donors and we're starting to burn them out frankly uh the fda has been fantastically collaborative on trying to uh uh create some more evidence-based rules that that have uh diminished some deferrals but frankly it's it's a modest uh increment in the number of eligible donors but it's all appreciated uh peter marks has done a fantastic job but i would highly suggest uh paying attention uh to the recommendations from the acb tsa that go to rachel levine assistant secretary of health and those which have been very collaborative including the red cross representatives and hospital and blood center representatives uh are doing things like increase national attention to blood donation uh as uh david uh mentioned um we have a increasingly diverse country but we're only slowly increasing uh diversity in our donor base um and it's been a real struggle and can certainly use governmental help uh with with respect to that and then hemovigilance programs learning more we don't really have the kind of national tracking that other nations do both on blood donation there is no simple way of knowing at any given time exactly how much blood is out there okay problem all right um nancy do you want to ask me yeah and i think that this has been an awareness for you know everyone as patients and it's people in healthcare it's our industry where we're trying to collect enough blood we're all working together to do the best we can because the bottom line is good patient care there you know i can emphasize only what judd has already shared and also ethnic diversity it's really important to have ethnic diversity among our blood donors and we really don't have as much as we should right now so i think that there are a lot of ways to try to tackle this but it is hard for companies to um allow allow their employees or donors to come in and donate if it's a fixed site versus you're able to have a drive at their site it makes it much more challenging so i think that's another aspect of it and then overall having these staffing shortages that affect just not only health care but also in our blood centers you know you have more people that may want to come in but then you don't have the staffing to help with all the drives that may be needed it's really it really truly is a challenge because people are sick in their shortages okay another thing to mention and i don't know if judd wants to elaborate on this a little bit more about the efforts we've had in the twin cities working together with the blood centers here and the hospitals judd do you want to hit on that a little bit yes this has been a great example of red cross memorial and hospitals working together under the leadership of the minnesota department of health we've had uh scarcity preparedness plans actually starting with pandemic flu a decade and a half or two ago and i helped write the transfusion medicine preparedness plan and we recently revised that in collaboration with doctors from health partners university of minnesota red cross and us and i think it's a nice guide of basically things that both blood centers and uh hospitals can do so they're not we're not all reinventing the wheel and i can send your colleagues the link to that uh site because i think it's uh useful it's hardly minnesota specific okay um so it sounds like um we have and i'm gonna when we talk to some of the people around the state i want to see what they're doing to kind of what some solutions are to get around this because we have we need more people to give donate blood which is our main message here today correct and maybe we can talk a little bit about that we have the issues of staffing right now at some of the at some of the centers we need to do a better job of tracking the blood um and we are gonna just have to be um and have in better preparedness plans which we have some in place but but going going forward so i just see this opportunity of getting the news out which all of you have done extraordinarily well actually i think a lot of us are starting to hear about this in the news the more you get the news out and we've got many members of the media on this call um the more people find out about it and then they're willing to go in and donate so maybe we'll start um we'll start in rochester um with melanie cheetah who's the executive director of the american red cross for the southeast chapter in rochester what's going on down there where you have a lot of doctors healthy we have a pretty strong health community yes we do and the red cross has had a long partnership with the mayo clinic and we've actually recently kind of taken that to a new place until very recently the mayo clinic did all the collection in olmsted county and the red cross did all the collection and all the surrounding counties and this uh blood supply being so low caused us to have some additional conversations with our colleagues at mayo clinic and we recently held a drive here at our building the red cross building here in rochester with a real strong emphasis on recruiting new donors who aren't currently giving perhaps they're not working in their office downtown they're working from home or perhaps they used to give at their workplace and those opportunities haven't been available recently we filled up all the appointments right away which was pretty exciting and in visiting with many of the donors who came they said well this is a convenient time and place and that makes it easy to give and i think that was an important lesson for us to hear from these donors in that sometimes we do have to think outside the box and maybe find a new location find new times find uh some way to capture their attention because then we were able to get people to come in the door and they're able to and i know mayo is one glaring a good example but are there other companies that used to have the blood drives inside where you can partner with them to have their people come somewhere even though they're absolutely not yet yeah that is something that we're going to be talking with our male colleagues about how to complement each other with those services being available they had previously before covid had done some drives at the colleges and at the high schools so we certainly don't want to compete or step on any toes we just want to make those opportunities available for people who are looking for that we did have an a couple of our board members really strongly promoted the this drive to the extent that they gave their employees time off to come and donate and that helped our response so we had people came who said well i was able to take the two hours off in order to you know come in and donate today and and that was the support of the employer making that happen i'm just trying to think of converting that employer help that's always been so strong in from other employers into trying to steer people um to the blood banks maybe we should go up north where it's really cold and of course we need two people on to represent the northland they are they're always well represented and now we have why don't we go over to angela with northland component services for memorial blood centers in duluth and then we'll hear from dan williams um with the american red cross for the northern chapter you want to start angela sure yes my name is angela inglem i'm the senior manager for the dual operations so the whole duluth um memorial blood center site that's here we service 18 hospitals as well as three medical transport companies out of on this facility and so we have it has honestly been a challenge i've been here for over 24 years i've been employed here and this is like the longest most heart-wrenching you know difficulty we've ever faced um you know as far as you know continued blood sugar this is this is just go it's been going on and on and on to the point where i don't know if it's actually ever gonna end and i have a lot of years here so this has been you know kind of been eye-opening and a lot of this is pandemic related um so we have been trying to be creative we've worked with our hospitals we've asked our hospitals across all of ibr to reduce their inventory by 20 i at least i'm happy to say that i feel like our hospitals have all gotten the blood that they truly need to really you know minimize any kind of impact to patient care but it has been really a big challenge we have moved blood around we've you know had to i said we reduced inventory at the hospital so they're not as comfortable with what they have because you know a lot of our hospitals are a couple hours away from us and so they're nervous when they don't have as much blood on their shelf as what they typically have we are 24 7 operations up here which helps us be able to get products to them as as they need them we have worked with the community members you know we're in the same boat as um red cross has talked about as far as not being able to get into the businesses to draw blood because you know people are working from home um schools have been closed and all the hybrid learning stuff it's it's been a really big challenge we're having the staffing shortages everybody else is having um we did have some luck with having some donor days like um they're talking about in rochester and encouraging our normal businesses that we do blood drives with the schools we do blood drives with to host a day where they can come in and donate blood at our donor centers as well so it has been a truly you know ongoing ongoing challenge i do think our hospitals have had to do some modifications um slight modifications because they're inventory levels and having to make sure that they're comfortable we're not as currently not asking them to do any kind of cancellation or reduction of elective surgeries we have in the past and during the pandemic we're not currently in that state right now though which is good but it still is still a you know significant ongoing shortage of blood products for us okay yes and it would be i can imagine even some of these smaller hospitals and um getting the blood there it just takes in all of our rural areas i mean i bet some of your donors are older than in some of the other places so the pandemic has been an issue it has been and that's one of the issues too is that some of the donors are aging out and we're needing to get new donors and more like we're talking before about more you know more diverse population of donors as well so that definitely has had a big impact okay thank you dan i'll add in you know a lot of the same things that were added from memorial uh we happen to be a located i'm literally sitting about what uh 300 yards from angela across across maple grove road here in hermantown you know one of the things that reminds me of is the fact that you know as other people have said it's really about getting people to donate for the first time as people age out of being blood donors it's about encouraging new people to become donors and so one of the things i love about the northland up here is some of the partners that actually help support both uh drives with the red cross and drives with memorial so i'm thinking of places like bent paddle brewing or or other organizations like that some of the colleges in the area um and if you think of our the northern minnesota chapter you know covers all the way from uh if you picture um uh senator all the way from like wadena and brainerd all the way up to the canadian border and that that sort of core of that area from wadena up through brainerd and up to aitkin county really huge generous donate don't blood donors in that part of the state and up in our area in the duluth area here some really you know creative partnerships you talked about how we can engage some of these companies in ways that we maybe had in the past but it doesn't work that anyway anymore because they're maybe not at work or they're not at school so thinking of places like the duluth entertainment convention center you know which is a public facility who's been fantastic partners with us in uh giving us large spaces that have lots of airflow and lots of uh sort of separation space to do blood drives there in partnership with places like affinity plus credit union or bentleyville or others and so um a lot of this is you know how do we engage some of those partners uh in ways that are new um that takes into consideration the resume that people have giving i went to bentleyville this year people weren't giving blood right there outside nope nope not giving a large segment okay good yeah so uh they were helping us promote blood drives yeah their help promoting the blood drives in advance uh they actually printed up some t-shirts that were sort of bentleyville uh festive branded around it to to encourage people to donate and again to to make sure people feel appreciated the people that are uh sticking this out and donating blood or new blood donors that are coming and in hearing this message and are thinking themselves well i could make a difference this way i know my parents or i know my uncle or my aunt or my teacher talked about donating blood maybe i can do that same thing myself that's what we're trying to encourage is as new people to think about becoming blood donors too okay very good all right thanks well and then uh last but not least kevin mir from uh fargo which of course i like to call it moorhead fargo moorhead but thank you for joining us absolutely thank you you know uh senator klobuchar you pointed out every blood donor uh can save up the up to three lives uh with uh one donation and i just want to point out that every donor really does matter um and so out in otterdale county which where we uh where i serve we have seven blood drives coming up in the next two months and that's uh that's a lot of blood drives for one county to have and so we encourage everyone to come out and uh also encourage you that if you've ever been deferred for any reason that uh that you know try again make an appointment um or if you know that you cannot donate through the red cross you also can volunteer i just recently heard a story of a phlebotomist that had to greet our donors and this is someone that could be taking out another donation of blood uh but was uh but instead was having to greet our donors and so if you can't donate or you still want to participate you can you can volunteer at our blood drives as well so um so we're looking forward to uh you know growing that uh base as well so yeah very good and i know wendy you're on as well uh with the uh with memorial blood center so thank you for being on are you there wendy yes i am thank you very much senator we really appreciate you bringing awareness to this important issue um what i'm hearing everyone say is that in order to have have a healthy community we need a healthy blood supply and so we really appreciate you helping us get the word out and i think that's part of our challenge is people think that if we're not on the news telling you we need blood that we don't need it but we do we need blood donors every day and that's the reality because it's the people who donate today that make sure we're prepared for tomorrow's emergency so i think judd mentioned organizations employers that used to years ago give employees time off to donate there are some organizations now that give volunteer hours to their employees and if you could help us get the word out that blood donation is a really important volunteer activity it's a unique way you can contribute to the health of the community so we would greatly appreciate any opportunity to create a psa or some kind of a regular appeal to help get that word out on a routine basis exactly and i think a lot of that is getting encouraging people to ask their employers if they could get that time off um and especially when people working at home while it's as we talked about it's harder because they're not there i still have memories of when i was at the law firm like when someone else next door giving blood that you know from a different department it was always quite amusing um but um you know some of that is still going on and will start going on again as you know but for now they'll just encourage them to go places right now just go ahead sorry we have a really important blood drive tomorrow with the minnesota timberwolves at target center from 10 to five so we would love to have people go out and if organizations or employers can donate space like large spaces like the deck that dan was talking about that really makes it easier for us to get out there to the community if they donate that space for us to have a blood drive we need at least 1800 square feet and that would help us tremendously to be able to um have a common location for people to meet like you said places where people congregate but it needs to be socially distanced and safe right so let's get to that if anyone once wants to talk about um how it is safe uh right now in uh to donate blood and what kind of precautions that i don't care maybe one from either uh memorial blood center and red cross one each whoever is the best person to address that what are some of the things you do to make people realize that they can do this and be safe senator dave hamler sorry for it's okay nothing is memorial um at the same time you know we've always had safeguards in place we've always been aseptic in our technique and how we draw the blood but now we have to distance and we have to make sure people are either vaccinated and i think that's going to be the commonplace everywhere or at least have the documentation that they have been vaccinated one of the things is the fear is is that obviously there's a contamination part portion of it the contamination i think is probably zero percent in either of our our two spaces the other thing can you contract um uh any uh disease specifically covet from donating blood no you can't that's been proven that that's not that's a non-issue everyone is screened we do a wonderful screening process not only online pre-visit but also when you enter the facility and then because of the efforts of the staff and the volunteers we keep the socially distance we make sure people are staying away and then when they collect the blood the blood is done in a safe way a safe manner and then it's screened now in some of the issues that we talked about targeted populations we screen blood not only for the regular blood types we screen it for certain types of antigens that might sit on it because we have a chronic disease population out there who receives blood all the time people have lymphoma leukemia and they have to have special processes where they make sure the blood is the correct type even down to the antigenicity that means you know certain little blebs that are on the end of the cell so those folks have special care taken into in terms of looking for their blood and what's going on so i would say negative i just typo negative is the most needed blood group because it right because it can be treated you are the yeah you're the most um you're the one who can donate to everyone so yes you can give to everybody and typo positives also in high demand so is there a way for people to know that they're in that group i mean i guess they have to find out from their doctor and yeah well usually if you give blood that's the quickest way to find out how much it is okay we let you know on the spot but yeah there are other methods through the department of health and everyone else and but the point is is that we'll let you know you're type and once you register with either red cross or memorial we we make sure we send special messages to you for your particular type as well so those are things that are beneficial again we have done things in spaces uh just like everyone else in the large venues to stay safe so that you have that 1800 feet and now you can go to churches and ymcas the excel center where we had one so those are all venues that we can take advantage of there's some things that we can do to try and make sure that we get more blood in the system and that's going to those areas just like i talked to before and that was mentioned before that we normally don't go to in other words we need to extend our aperture open our aperture so that we're looking for diverse types of blood where we haven't really gone so that will help us send that message out as well but in terms of the question you asked initially blood collection is very safe the donation process is um well patterned and we know exactly how we've done it in the past and we're taking extra precautions because of covin because of the mandates that are out there okay someone else want to chime in on this about the safety issues i'm i'm thinking i know all the the great work you've you pointed out um on the on the other end when the blood's checked but i think one of the reasons we know that there's been some slow down right is because of the pandemic um and it's on the end of don't donating blood and just um just any thoughts on that and what more this is jedi will chime in memorial like the red cross has certainly made great efforts for donors to feel safe uh we have mandated vaccinations for all employees we have uh distancing uh both physical distancing and we've asked that donors make appointments uh we used to depend more on just drop-ins um and both for assuring the the supply but also ensuring that we can maintain that physical distancing we've requested donors to schedule we're incredibly fortunate that this is not a transfusion transmittable illness there basically is no prolonged viremic phase and i am chair of the american association of blood banks transfusion transmitted disease committee um and it has certainly greatly simplified things that at least the one thing we don't have to worry about is uh any cases of trans of acquisition of covid by uh transfusion uh but you know that that sort of lucky uh and who knows what the next pandemic is so in our pandemic preparedness uh planning for the future we certainly need to address the possibilities of what if the next icky thing that is out there turns out to be transfusion transmissible i think that's worth discussion and certainly as been brought to the attention of the acb tsa and we have recommendations okay but right now it's not the the variants that we have are not there but for the grace of god went we and we got the angel from memorial blood centers in this lucky below i also want to point out that um we're requiring masking you know we over all of our as well as requiring the vaccination for all of our employees um we have a lot of vaccination requirement from our hospitals as well um that actually um i think all but three of our northland hospitals with service are actually requiring a vaccination for our staff to be able to go into their facilities so we kind of were in line with that um we are we are requiring asking um if and if a donor comes in they don't have a mask we have one to give them all of our staff are always being masked uh we do a lot of decontamination of the surface area and basically as the donor comes in we've always been a subject like i think it was um something that before we've always been aseptic we've always been very you know clear and clean as far as how we do our needle sticks and such um but we do a lot of additional um surface decontamination as well and then we do try to maintain the social distancing we have um the buses we tried to stagger the buses um our drives out longer so that we have less congestion in the buses and try to so we can have more of that physical distancing of space and then of course when we have like our inside set up that's what we'd like the larger square footage because it gives the ability to have more of a physical separation as well sorting everything they can as far as disinfecting and masking and following all the you know safety protocols nancy and you can think about i mean it's actually much safer place to come into a blood donor center than it is to go anywhere else publicly it's with all the precautions that are in place and people that are there they're all healthy and i mean it's it's a lot safer than any place you could choose to go whether it's a restaurant or store or whatever else so it's funny it's completely true but i think sometimes people you know they don't think like that because it's in it's in a medical setting so and so as you look to you know incentives for this younger donor base that you need to recruit for both uh reasons to get at ethnicity and this incredible incredibly expanding population in minnesota which is really exciting of our immigrant community people of color that's part of it but it's also just in general you need younger donors as you point as someone pointed out as i think um some of the rural areas especially as people are aging out they're not gonna they get older and they're not in that kind of some of the younger people actually are very as i point out at every college graduation i speak at they're very community minded right they think about the world around us and it would seem uh like this would actually be a good uh target group um and so tell me maybe we'll we can end here as we look to the future just or what are some of the techniques you use to get at uh both a more diverse donor group but also a younger donor group and they're they're kind of combined in some ways so maybe chime in uh senator one of the one of the great things about when the pandemic started was you know some people have pointed out the need for volunteers how it sort of expands it leverages our staff members to be able to collect blood more efficiently and the university medical school university of minnesota medical school duluth campus had a fantastic group of students who were very close to graduating from medical school um who volunteered for that first you know the march april may june of 2020 when things were sort of at their worst and people were scared about doing things and there was this really critical need um it was fantastic to see these um blossoming medical professionals who will be the the the doctors that uh serve our communities across the state volunteering at blood drives at a time when it was really hard to get volunteers to do that so i think how uh you know when you think of colleges around the state that have been able to stay together you know that have been in school for for learning um really great engagement of the communities in those campuses where high schools have gotten back together you know i think of wadena high school and others that have really just been continuing fantastic blood donor groups um i just we need to keep doing more of that and encouraging that to happen very good senator red cross has a i call it an ambassador program where we actually obviously the schools have been down and we haven't been able to get the participation in the past but we engage our youth in our schools with an ambassador program and tanya or melanie can speak to it where we're engaging the youth and there's clubs so to speak and they put on blood drives and obviously it's a little bit down now that we hope to re-engage and re-energize those groups in those schools the same thing happens in churches when we have blood drives we solicit the actual personnel who are at those facilities to engage with us and they become ambassadors in those communities where we go so we're recruiting to recruit and it's it's multiplier it's a multiplier that helps us in that regard tanya or melanie do you want to speak to what were what we've done in the past with youth that's a great example dr hamler of the ways that we try to encourage youth to be the leaders and not just follow our lead but lead other youth and and one of the messages we've heard from our red cross club members is that the world is a lot smaller to them than than it is to us and when something like a natural disaster happens like a tornado that goes through kentucky in december they realize right away that that means nobody's collecting blood they're responding to that tornado and the needs of for the blood supply are going to continue so a volunteer from minnesota who who might say well i can't i can't go to kentucky i don't have the time in my schedule what else can i do to help ironically it's the blood donors who step right up and say well i can donate blood and that will help replenish the the donations that are either being sent to those hospitals for the people who are affected by that disaster or or will replace the donor donations that aren't being collected because that community needs to just respond to the disaster itself before they can resume their regular collection i think the argument is that some of the younger donors are pretty plugged in yes seeing themselves as part of what happens in other parts of our country or actually our world yeah so when those moments happen um social media or the like it's a way to engage which i've certainly seen in uh politics as well it's a way to bring people in in a way that maybe wouldn't have happened 25 years ago absolutely and the the red cross has this blood donor app that tells you where your blood donation ended up so 40 of the nation's blood collected by the red cross so my last blood donation went to a hospital in illinois and isn't that exciting for me as a blood donor to know that i can help anywhere in the country where that blood is needed it's going to go and that for our younger donors that resonates with them that resonates very good disaster response is very important and i certainly applaud the red cross's role in doing an amazing job of disaster response but we need to be very very careful that that is not the message for blood donation the amount of blood used every day is actually incredibly consistent and tornadoes and hurricanes and other mayhem mass shootings all day though they are very newsworthy actually have very minimal increment in the amount of blood usage uh and so what we the message to get across from a blood standpoint is that it's needed constantly uh whoever thought of putting christmas and new year's a week apart a pox on you and it is very challenging to have blood donation around holidays because you know nobody wants to come in at christmas or have blood drives between christmas and uh and new year's but the point is is blood usage is pretty consistent hence blood donation needs to be consistent what we don't want to do is get the message of only donate after disasters uh because then we're crying wolf and uh i think what we're talking about is just getting some new donors and young donors involved in interested and it then of course the idea is to convert it into something else we certainly see this with things like gun violence where we know the everyday violence is the highest cost of human life but more and more people get motivated and get passionate about something because of what they've seen and this is really true of young people it it is they they see something and they want to help and so it's just i think what what melanie was talking about was just simply a way to bring people in and there is some need for blood for these disasters and they have a they have a decrease in donations at that time in areas that are disaster struck that can affect them for um months i'm sure so so i'm also on the trauma committee at hennepin where we have had more penetrating trauma gunshot wounds and knife wounds as of end of august than we did in all of 2019 so sadly this is not just a problem of decreased donations this is also increased usage uh people are driving in less respectful ways shall we say uh and so there's more blood being used for take care of car accidents so this is a combination of both increased usage and uh challenges on donation collection very good maybe we want to end i see wendy had her hand up and then that wendy yes please thank you um you asked about young donors and what we're doing differently and and not necessarily what we're doing differently but our tradition has been to encourage uh students to become leaders for tomorrow so we have a high school scholarship program where we encourage students to participate in a blood drive either as a volunteer or as a volunteer blood donor and they can earn points for their school to receive a high school scholarship for a student selected by the faculty we also hold a high school workshop every year to try to help those student leaders develop leadership skills and learn about how to use social media for the general cause like blood donation and we need to meet the young donors where they are and traditionally about 30 percent of blood that we collect during the school year comes from high school students but school is not in session in the sense that it was before or campuses are closed and so that's really impacting not only our ability to have enough blood but also their ability to earn those scholarship dollars and get those leadership skills so we want to try to re-engage some of those items we're being we're on social media more but we need more help and so um again we would love to have more support for building awareness about the need for blood to keep our community safe very good uh you know as we were concluding here i was thinking how at this moment in our history where people through no fault of their own with the pandemic feel less connected and they want to be more connected and they're finding ways to do that and where you have people at odds politically i'm not telling you a secret you didn't know it seems like this is one volunteer activity that can bring people together regardless of where they are politically regardless of where they live which is why we thought it was important to people from different parts of the state on and you don't know where your blood's going to end up and but you're doing it because you believe in a cause larger than yourself so i just want to thank you for your work and we hope we can get the word out and be as creative as possible uh to try to get the word out to get more donors and more consistent donors um so they keep coming and also that it's safe to give blood i i really like that analogy because i was just like you know everyone on out there thinking well is this a safe time to do this but actually people are going to a lot of places that are less safe and you know accepting that grocery stores restaurants because they have to and it's actually quite safe to go in a place where people have been vaccinated and there's rules in place um and uh and the like and less people i'm sure in a lot of the places so i just want to thank you and ask everyone to go to the websites of these two major uh organizations to

2022-01-12 01:13

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