JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – The coronavirus pandemic caused a nationwide blood shortage because less people have been donating. Leaders with Mississippi Blood Services (MBS) said they have also been impacted due to Hurricane Ida.
The agency supplies blood to more than 40 hospitals in the state.
“Mississippi Blood Services has been hit hard ever since the beginning of 2020 between the pandemic and weather. We actually had to shut down an entire week because of ice storms, which is precedent. We’ve never done that before,” said Merle Eldridge, the director of Donor Recruitment for MBS.
The donation center has only been able to fill about half of the orders from local hospitals. They have not been able to get much help from national donors. Last week, MBS took another hit. They had to shut down during Hurricane Ida.
“We had to close down mobile operations for an entire day, which was at a cost of about 200 units, and we were already at critical levels,” Eldridge explained.
Officials believe people may be hesitant to donate right now due to COVID concerns.
“There are some misconceptions, as it relates to COVID. So if you have been diagnosed with COVID, you can still donate as long as you’re 14 days symptom-free. The other thing is that a lot of people think if they’ve received the COVID vaccine that they cannot donate, but that is not true. There is no waiting period after the COVID vaccine.”
MBS has been using incentives like concert and gift card giveaways. They will also be hosting donor appreciation week soon in an attempt to encourage more people to donate.
“The amount of time that you’re actually donating blood and have the needle is only 10 to 15 minutes, and that’s very little to ask when you know that you’re saving up to three lives.”
MBS has up to eight blood drives each day. To find the locations and more information, visit their website.