Hospital, community leaders gather with South Texas Blood & Tissue Center to issue urgent call for blood donations

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The South Texas Blood & Tissue Center (STBTC), together with representatives from University Health System, Methodist Healthcare System and local civic and business leaders, recently gathered to share a message: There is not enough blood on the shelves to treat patients.

“Simply put, if you or a family member needs blood, current projections show we will not have the supply available to fully meet our community’s needs,” said Elizabeth Waltman, chief operating officer of STBTC. “We’re facing a situation in which hospitals may be forced to cancel elective surgeries.

“The community needs existing donors to come in and give, as well as new donors to come in – and keep coming in.”

To maintain an adequate supply, STBTC needs 2,000 donors before July 4, Waltman said.

Blood donations typically drop during the summer because high school and college students are out of school, and community blood drives decline because people are on vacation.

Historically, July is the slowest month of the year for donations. And with the threat of the Zika virus, anticipated needs for accident victims, an unusually high number of organ transplants at local hospitals and an increase in violent crimes, the blood supply is stressed even further.

There also is the ongoing need for blood, which only increases as the local population grows.

“One of our biggest uses for blood is for people undergoing cancer treatments, especially as part of our bone marrow transplant program,” said Dr. Paul Hancock, chief medical officer at Methodist Healthcare System. “Those therapies require a continuous supply of blood.”

Another ongoing need is for the high-risk pregnancy program at the University Hospital System, said Dr. Jennifer Daniel-Johnson, medical director for transfusion services at UHS. University Hospital, as a level 1 trauma center, also has immediate needs for victims of accidents and violent crimes.

Local leaders, including Police Chief William McManus, San Antonio Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Richard Perez, Assistant Fire Chief Neal Ague, and State Rep. John Lujan urged anyone eligible in the community to step up and become a regular blood donor.

STBTC is extending hours at its donor rooms to 7 p.m. this week.

Locations and information about scheduling a donation can be found at SouthTexasBlood.org/give-now, and donors also can call 210-731-5590 to schedule an appointment at any location or at a mobile drive.

Donors also can give at the University Health System donor room, which is at 4502 Medical Drive, Rio Tower, Third Floor. Schedule an appointment by calling 210-358-8180.

All donors will need to have a photo ID. Anyone who is 16 years old and weighs at least 120 pounds (with parental consent form), or 17 years old and weighs at least 110 pounds and is in good general health may donate blood.

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