Every day, hospitals in Northern Virginia have a lot of patients in need of what we all have — blood.
Monthly, an Inova Blood Donor Services bloodmobile comes to Reston Town Center to help collect precious inventory for those patients. The mobile service is at Reston Town Center today — and the fourth Tuesday of every month — from noon to 6 p.m.
“We encourage everybody to go out and donate,” said Wally Paraiso, mobile ops team leader for Inova Blood Donor Services.
Paraiso said the bloodmobile has been making its regular visits to Reston Town Center for about five years. It sets up on Discovery Street near the pavilion.
Sharing figures from the past three months, Paraiso said the Reston bloodmobile has been averaging about two dozen donors a month. The number of donors varies — 35 came in March, but only 18 came in April. Paraiso said it is important to keep blood supplies up.
“Every day, there are a lot of patients who need blood,” he said.
Donors receive a T-shirt (while supplies last) and parking validation for up to two hours. Prospective donors are encouraged to pre-register online or call 866-BLOODSAVES and use sponsor code 1000.
If the Reston Town Center drive isn’t convenient, Paraiso said there are several other drives across Virginia, Maryland and D.C. on a daily basis. Residents are encouraged to search Inova’s website to find one that’s right for them.
“It doesn’t matter what blood type you are,” Paraiso said. “As long as you’re healthy and well, you’re eligible to donate.”
The bloodmobile will next be at Reston Town Center on Tuesday, June 27.
They are asking Northern Virginia residents, if they are able, to donate blood at one of Inova’s fixed site blood donor centers as soon as possible.
Donors may schedule an appointment, or find a donor center by visiting www.inova.org/donateblood or calling 1-866-BLOODSAVES (866-256-6372).
The closest fixed donation site to Reston is on Nokes Boulevard near Dulles Town Center. See all area sites, get directions and make an appointment on Inova’s website.
Terri Craddock, Director of Inova Blood Services, says Inova shut down collection operations for 2 1/2 days. That’s the first time in 50 years such a thing has happened, she said.
“The inventory of blood at Inova has been severely impacted by Winter Storm Jonas as we were unable to collect these lifesaving products for our patients over the last 2 ½ days,” Craddock said in a release.
“During the height of the storm, we had heavy usage of blood products at some of our hospitals. With this increase in usage and decrease in collections, we need blood donors to answer our call. Without reaching our daily collections goal of 250 units a day, our shelves are running empty. This insufficient inventory leaves local hospitals vulnerable in response to emergency patients as well as provides challenges in meeting in or out-patient procedures requiring the use of blood and blood products.”
Also impacting the shortage: Inova’s mobile drives — which are responsible for more than 70 percent of collections — will be canceled this week as they usualally take place in office parking lots.
“Mobile Blood Drives are cancelling, participation at business blood drives are down because employees have the option to telework and quite honestly, with all the snow, we can’t park our bloodmobile in an area safe enough for the donors to give,” said Carolyn Bayless, Mobile Operations Manager.
All blood types are needed. To give blood, donors must be feeling generally well on the day of their donation, be at least 16 years old (with parental consent), weigh at least 110 pounds and not have donated blood in the past eight weeks (56 days) for whole blood or 112 days for double red cells. Platelet donors should not take aspirin or aspirin-based products within 48 hours prior to donation.
Inova Bloodmobile/file photo