Neighborhoods hosting blood drives, answering One Blood's urgent need for donors

People are getting creative to host blood drives and answer One Blood’s urgent need for blood donors.

One Blood’s supply has been indefinitely disrupted since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, said Susan Forbes, One Blood Senior Vice-President of Corporate Communications and Public Relations.

“It is unprecedented what has happened with our operations," Forbes explained.

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She said the organization lost more than 50,000 blood donations this spring when COVID-19 shutdowns canceled 3,000 blood drives virtually overnight but the need for blood has stayed the same. Six months later, One Blood’s big red buses still cannot go back to locations where they had regular blood drives.

“To have school in session and not be booked at every college and high school and university in our service area has never happened in the history of our organization,” Forbes said. Those types of blood drives make up over 20 percent of One Blood’s supply.

But Forbes said communities are now hosting blood drives in places they have never been held before, including at Seminole County parks and in neighborhoods.

“It’s really great for our neighborhood because people can just get up out of their houses, walk up to the bus, if they made an appointment and donate their blood,” said Michelle Lefloch-Fernandez, who donated blood at a Big Red Bus blood drive outside her home in Fountain Park.

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Forbes said homeowners associations are quickly becoming a popular avenue for Big Red Bus blood drives, which account for 80 percent of One Blood’s supply.

“The first one we had was so overwhelming, we had four buses,” said Deanna Sims, Assistant Division Manager and Community Manager for the Heathrow Master Association. She said a One Blood representative first approached her with the idea of hosting a blood drive in a neighborhood.

“After having them for a couple weeks and realizing how popular they were I was putting it out with other managers that it was a good thing to do with other associations,” Sims said. She explained that offering blood drives in a neighborhood makes it extremely convenient for people to donate. “It as a popular option for people to donate blood forever.

Forbes is urging people to become sustained donors, saying it is the only way to ensure a sustained blood supply. She said “this can’t be a one and done and you don’t come back because you’re needed for the long haul.”

If your neighborhood association is interested in hosting a blood drive reach out to One Blood.