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Health Report: Blood Bank of Alaska seeking donations during National Blood Donor Month

Published: Dec. 29, 2020 at 5:03 PM AKST
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - Since 1970, Blood Donor Awareness month has begun the new year, according to Courtney Reynolds, Manager of the Blood Bank of Alaska.

Reynolds says this is due to the preceding winter months often being very lean in donations. “Winter is a difficult time to collect blood throughout. You have many reasons, the holidays are just over, everyone’s done going out... you have illnesses, people are sick especially this year with COVID [so] everybody is indoors.”

Inclement weather and seasonal illness reduce the amount of donated blood available for patients, but the need for blood is not similarly reduced.

“There’s a lot of usage this time of year also because people are traveling, getting into accidents unfortunately, so the usage goes up and the donations go down,” said Reynolds.

While the need for all blood remains great, the COVID-19 pandemic has created a specific additional need from patients who have contracted and since recovered from the virus. Once recovered, they carry convalescent plasma with antibodies in their blood that may be used to help treat patients currently infected. Reynolds told us “Every time somebody comes in and they donate one pint of blood, it could save up to three peoples lives - and that’s what we’re doing here, we’re saving lives.”

If a prospective donor, either symptomatic or asymptomatic, has received a positive test result and has since fully recovered from COVID-19, they are eligible to donate convalescent plasma to the community. “Every person that comes in and is able to donate blood, the blood will stay in Alaska and help Alaska,” said Reynolds.

For more information on the procedure for donating convalescent plasma or the Alaska Blood Bank visit their website here.

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