Need for Blood Donations Ahead of Hurricane Dorian

Aislinn Antrim, Assistant Editor
Published Online: Tuesday, September 3rd, 2019
As Hurricane Dorian bears down on the East Coast, blood donation centers are seeking to proactively increase their supply in order to respond to possible needs caused by the storm. While the direct path is still uncertain, millions of people could be affected by wind, rain, flooding, and high storm surge.

The Blood Connection (TBC), a blood center serving areas of North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia, is organizing last-minute blood drives in order to meet the need in hospitals affected by the storm. TBC serves over 70 hospitals,1 and has asked those further inland to donate blood in order to keep the supply steady.2

"Part of what we do at TBC is answering the call of other communities," said TBC President and CEO Delisa English in a statement. "A hurricane can disrupt the blood supply for days. It's imperative that donors give now in case rough weather heads our way, too. We need to be proactive, not reactive."3

Allie Van Dyke, partnerships and media coordinator for TBC, said advancing the blood supply is a normal part of disaster preparedness and relief practices. Ensuring that hospitals and centers have a sufficient blood supply before the storm is vital.

"We do not want to be delivering blood during the storm," Van Dyke said in an interview. "[Blood] is so important during a hurricane because they're so unpredictable that we need to make sure the hospitals have it beforehand."

The TBC statement added that while TBC's first priority is to supply local hospitals, it also has a responsibility to provide blood to other communities in times of crisis.3

The center has already moved its coastal resources out of the Charleston, SC, area. Any resources to collect blood in that area have been moved to Greenville, SC, and other blood drives are being organized throughout the region in order to supply blood to the areas where TBC is unable to collect donations during the hurricane.2

"There's a possibility those impacted by the hurricane will need our help after the storm, too, and we will continue to send whatever is needed," English said in the TBC statement.2

Van Dyke said TBC sent blood to centers in Florida late last week so that those hospitals are fully stocked, and that TBC does not plan to send more blood to Florida unless needed. Current donations will stay in affected communities in TBC's normal service region, so Van Dyke encouraged those further inland to donate and help their neighbors to the East.

The Red Cross is also helping to ensure a steady blood supply in affected areas. While the nonprofit does not typically collect and distribute blood in Florida, it has supplied approximately 350 blood products to local blood centers in advance of the storm.4

Blood donors must be healthy, weigh at least 110 pounds, and be 17 years old or 16 with written parental consent.3 Van Dyke added that they should eat well and hydrate beforehand, but that donors should not worry about medications or other limitations. TBC currently has multiple mobile donation buses across the region, as well as 6 centers in the Carolinas.

We just want people to know there is a way they can help," Van Dyke said.

  1. Areas of Service. Donate Blood - The Blood Connection.
  2. Hurrican Dorian Forces Local Blood Center to Move Coastal Resources Inland. Business Wire. Published September 2, 2019.
  3. Blood Donations Needed in Preparation for Hurricane Dorian. Business Wire. Published August 30, 2019.
  4. Hurricane Dorian Response in South Florida. Hurricane Dorian Response | Florida | American Red Cross. 

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