With Coronavirus causing cancellations, ConnectLife appeals to local blood donors

About one out of every seven people that enter a hospital will need blood. Additionally, the need for blood — and therefore blood donors — always increases during the warmer weather months, which are quickly approaching. And then there’s the Coronavirus situation, which is causing a surge in missed donor appointments and the cancellation of local blood drives because people are having second thoughts about congregating within groups due to the outbreak.

As a result, ConnectLife (formerly Unyts) is appealing to members of the public to roll up their sleeves and donate at their neighborhood ConnectLife donation center. By donating at a ConnectLife site, they are guaranteed that their donation will be used by patients right here in Western New York.

Joe Kirchmyer, a West Seneca resident and director of the West Seneca Chamber of Commerce, has been donating blood since being challenged to do so when he was in his early twenties. Nearly 40 years later, he continues to donate several times per year.

“Donating blood is easy, painless, and one of the most selfless acts of kindness an individual can participate in,” said Kirchmyer. “Just one donation — one pint — can help save up to three lives. At some point during your lifetime, either you, a family member or a close friend is going to need blood, and what would happen if the supply just wasn’t there? I’m going to continue to give, and I would encourage all healthy, eligible donors to do the same.

“Americans — and Western New Yorkers in particular — have always stepped up to donate during times of crisis. Unfortunately, the Coronavirus is having the opposite effect. We need to come together as a community to ensure the strength of our blood supply. I hope everyone that is eligible to donate will make it a point to act quickly.”

While walk-ins are typically accepted, ConnectLife encourages donors to make an appointment at their local donation center, like the one conveniently located at the Southgate Plaza in West Seneca, which has recently experienced a higher than normal cancellation rate due to Coronavirus concerns. The Southgate Neighborhood Blood Donation Center is open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday and 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. every other Saturday. Donors can call 529-4270 to schedule an appointment. The West Seneca location can accept donations of whole blood, platelets and double red cells.

A whole blood donation usually takes about 30 to 45 minutes and can be made every 56 days. All blood types are always in demand and can help patients of all ages, from newborns to the elderly.

Platelets are needed by leukemia and cancer patients, those undergoing cardiac surgery, burn victims and people with bleeding disorders. Approximately 12 million units of platelets are transfused in the U.S. each year. Platelets can only be stored for five days after donation. The platelets you donate are usually replaced within about 24 hours, which is why you can donate every two weeks. Platelet donation takes approximately two hours. Types A+, B+ and AB+ are needed.

Red blood cells are the most needed blood component, necessitating double red cell donations. About 14 million units are transfused every year in the U.S. They are often the difference between life and death for trauma victims and those undergoing surgery. People with anemia, low hematocrit levels due to cancer or kidney diseases, and sickle cell disease also need red blood cells. More lives will be saved because two units can be safely collected during one donation. A double red cell donation typically takes 60 minutes, and can be done every 112 days. Types O+, O-, A- and B- are needed.

So how can you help? Contact the Southgate Neighborhood Blood Donation Center or any ConnectLife location to schedule an appointment to donate. If you work or are a member of an organization, inquire about hosting a blood drive. Visit www.connectlife.org for more information.

Your life — or the life of a loved one — may someday depend upon it.

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