By Harpreet Sandhu, Executive Director
For the last three months or so, our world here in the Bay Area has been colored completely by COVID-19. We have all had to make adjustments, make sacrifices and work as a team to support those who are most at risk during this pandemic. So far, thanks to all of our generous donors, I am happy to report that we have continued to meet the need of all those patients requiring blood transfusions during the shelter-in-place. To put in perspective how truly amazing that is, during a typical year, about 50% of all of our collections come from mobile drives. For nearly two months, we have had almost no drives, and even so, our shelves were never empty, and no patients were ever without the life-saving products they needed. Words cannot express my gratitude for all that your dedication has meant to me, Team SBC and the patients we serve.
I’m also happy to report that that SBC was one of the first centers in California to begin collections of COVID-19 convalescent plasma (CCP), which we started in early April. Since launching our CCP program, we have collected approximately 150 CCP units for transfusion into hospitalized COVID-19 patients. Every day we receive numerous submissions on our CCP website, stanfordbloodcenter.org/covid19plasma, from recovered patients in the area wanting to donate plasma. The speed and vigor with which our community has rallied around this cause, finding a way to turn their own struggles with the virus into a potentially life-saving gift, is extremely impactful. To anyone who contributed or even submitted their names on our interest form, thank you. You are true heroes.
So, where does that leave us now, mid-May, two months after the first shelter-in-place order? Donations at centers are still strong, and we are slowly starting to re-introduce mobile drives in the community as it is safe and feasible to do so. As hospitals begin rescheduling elective surgeries that were put off during the height of the pandemic and as non-COVID-19 patients start to feel comfortable to come back into hospitals for treatment, we are seeing a steady but rapid increase in the number of people who require blood products. With social distancing still limiting how close together we are able to schedule appointments and where we can hold drives, we are doing everything in our power to meet that increased need.
As I have said before, there is never a true lull in the need for blood products. While our schedule may look filled right now, we ask that you take the next opportunity you can to donate — we will surely need you. We are actively working to make more appointments available, and we hope that we can continue this momentum and keep our focus locked in on those who are continuing to suffer from accidents and illness in our community. While the future remains uncertain, I am confident that we will continue to navigate these new circumstances successfully, together, and never take our eyes off the patients who need us the most.
To read the full spring 2020 edition of PULSE, visit stanfordbloodcenter.org/pulse.