Springfield – With the state’s blood supply running low, lawmakers joined blood center officials in Springfield Wednesday to call on people to donate blood and stressed that blood centers are still safe, sterile places for healthy people to donate.

“Blood Centers have lost a projected 130,000 units nationwide as a result of nearly 4,000 cancelled drives due to closed campuses and the disruption of normal business. Blood centers rely on 60% of their donations coming in from blood drives out in the field and the last few weeks have been crippling. Blood only has a 42 day shelf life (5 days for platelets) and unlike toilet paper, cannot be stock piled, but constantly needs to be replenished. Despite the coronavirus, there are still patients in need of blood round the clock for cancer treatments, child birth, trauma accidents, Sickle Cell, etc., as well as babies in neonatal units relying on donated blood to stay alive,” said Illinois Coalition of Community Blood Centers Government Affairs Director Margaret Vaughn.

“During these uncertain times, it’s important to remember that blood centers still need people to donate. The nation’s blood supply is down 30-40% from what it was a year ago, yet patients are in constant need. Every 2 seconds someone needs blood and it has to be tested and on the shelf ready to go. If you have never donated blood before, now is the perfect time to start,” said 13th District Congressman Rodney Davis.

“Similar to the ice bucket challenge, the Illinois Coalition of Community Blood Centers is launching the “#GiveBloodChallenge” (see www.illinoisbloodcenters.com). We are asking schedule an appointment time, take a brief trip out to donate blood and post a pic (at least of your appointment time) and tag 5 of their friends to do the same on social media. While stuck at home, you can schedule your donation time anytime 24/7 at www.americasblood.org , explained Rep. Tim Butler (R-Springfield).

“I would like to officially challenge my fellow members of the General Assembly to the #GiveBloodChallenge. As an 12 plus gallon donor, I have been a lifelong advocate of blood donation and I know it can be hard to recruit people in normal times. However, donating is a very simple process. The screening is about 15 minutes and the actual blood donation portion takes 5-10 minutes. Less than an hour of your time can mean a lifetime to patients and their families,” said Rep. Mike Murphy (R-Springfield).

“The blood donors need to feel reassured that it is safe to donate blood. As the FDA has stressed, the coronavirus does not pose any know risk to blood donors during the donation process or by attending a blood drive. We are only drawing blood from healthy people and have signage asking people not to enter if they have any flu or cold like symptoms. Blood centers always and will continue to be very sterile and follow strict FDA regulatory guidelines and are taking extra cleaning and distancing precautions beyond our already stringent protocols.. We have extended donor hours and are asking that people first schedule an appointment online www.americasblood.org so that the flow of people can be more easily spread out,” explained Dr. Ruchika Goel, Medical Director of Central Illinois Community Blood.

“The one thing that has increased with the coronavirus is people’s presence on social media, we are asking them to put their time on social media to good use and helping save lives by sharing the “#GiveBloodChallenge” and getting their friends and family to donate blood,” emphasized Illinois Coalition of Community Blood Centers President Jim Watts with the Mississippi Valley Regional Blood Center.

In order to donate blood, What can you do?

If you are 17 years old (16 with parental permission), in good health and weigh at least 110 lbs., you may be eligible to donate blood. The donation process consists of a health screening, donating time and snack. The actual donation time is only about 5-10 minutes.

Contact one of the blood centers listed below or go to www.americasblood.org to find a blood center near you and schedule a donation time (can be done online 24/7) and post a pic on social media #Give Blood Challenge.

Central Illinois Community Blood Center (central & southern Illinois) www.bloodcenter.org 800-747-5401

Community Blood Services of Illinois (Champaign area and eastern Illinois) www.bloodcenter.org 800-747-5401

Mississippi Valley Regional Blood Center (Peoria area, western Illinois, Quad Cities & Metro East) www.bloodcenter.org 800-747-5401

Rock River Valley Blood Center (northern Illinois) www.rrvbc.org 815-965 -8751

Vitalant (Chicagoland and suburbs) www.vitalant.org 877-258-4835

If you are not eligible to donate blood, please tag your friends on social media to be part of the “#GiveBloodChallenge”

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