5 Keys to Attracting Blood Donors in 2021 Despite Covid-19

Until February 2020, it was common to see Red Cross buses with lines out their doors and memos from corporate headquarters encouraging employees to sign up during their annual blood drive.

Today, with Covid-19 ravaging communities across the globe, blood donation events have been canceled, and blood shortages threaten the recovery and lives of accident victims, cancer patients, and those with chronic illness worldwide. Before this pandemic, having blood donation buses at schools, community centers, and even outdoor public events made donation easy. Today, blood donation organizations must work harder and more creatively in order to bank the blood hospitals and pharmaceutical companies so desperately need.

Pre-pandemic, New York City alone saw an average of 550 blood drives drawing donors every month. Just two months ago, that number had dropped to 280 blood drives, leaving the city with a monthly shortage of 8,000 donations. Where hospitals in the US once stocked enough blood for one week, today most have just one day’s supply of blood.

Similarly, before Covid, the Hong Kong Red Cross Blood Transfusion Service regularly supplied hospitals with 500 units of blood from the 600 to 800 units they collected daily. As of last fall, the organization was collecting only 200 units of blood daily, less than half of the local hospitals’ demand.

Health systems and organizations around the world are calling for help in the form of both donation events and donors.

While most of the world has been consumed by Covid-19, many patients still need blood transfusions at the same rate they did before the pandemic.  Though many are still social distancing, they are attuned to the great needs of their country’s population at this time. Attract a steady stream of donors when you appeal to their sense of altruism. To pitch in during this crisis, you can set up a blood donation site and host an event.

1) Convince Targets of the Need

Use recent news headlines and statistics like those above to make your case that blood is desperately needed now. Many want to help during this time, and donating blood is a low-time and no-money commitment. Use individual stories or testimonials of donated blood recipients on websites and in the media. Some additional statistics to leverage are:

  • One pint of blood can mean the difference between life and death for three people.
  • Every few seconds in every country, someone needs a blood transfusion.
  • Every year, one in 25 people is helped by the Red Cross or Red Crescent.
  • 2020 saw 207 natural disasters in just the first six months!

Indirect blood infusions aren’t the only way blood donation saves lives. Explaining to donor prospects that many critical medications are derived from human blood may intrigue and motivate them. You can share that hyperimmune globulins derived from blood plasma effectively treat rabies, tetanus, hepatitis A or hepatitis B. Purified human blood plasma helps those with immunodeficiency diseases create antibodies they cannot make on their own. Similarly, the protein concentrate made from pooled, purified human blood plasma protein concentrate improves the lung function of patients suffering from genetic emphysema. The pharmaceutical industry uses significant blood supplies to create their life-saving medications.

2) Broadcast Your Donation Center’s Covid-19 Safety Measures

When you plan your event, let potential donors know you will be implementing the recommendations the CDC has provided for blood donor site safety. Post them on your website, email newsletter, or memo. Draw from these protocols recommended by the CDC:

  • use a simple appointment system and plan to keep donor flow manageable and to avoid crowds
  • all donors and staff will be  temperature-checked
  • all donors and staff must wear masks
  • hand sanitizer will be provided upon entering the facility and throughout the blood collection process

Share with potential donors that employees and volunteers will:

  • report possible Covid-19 symptoms, get tested, and quarantine if needed
  • change gloves and wash hands between donors
  • keep donors, chairs, and cots 6 feet apart at all times
  • disinfect donor stations per CDC protocol after each donor
  • launder blankets after each use
  • provide antibacterial hand sanitizer for donors before entering and throughout their donation

3) Consider a Unique Incentive

Let’s face it—the standard apple juice and cookie aren’t the motivator for getting blood donors to an event. What else can your organization do to encourage blood donation?

Stockholm blood donation service Blodcentralen texts blood donors to notify them of them when a patient is now carrying their donated blood. Organization Communications Manager Karolina Blom Wiberg explains, “We are convinced the SMS builds loyalty and the donors (including me) love getting them. They hit you right in the gut when you think that someone has in this instant been helped by my blood.”

Think about what badge or reward you can give your unique donor pool. Given their demographics, are they more likely to respond to a selfie in front of a unique background you provide, hats, shout-outs and photos on your organization’s social media or gift cards?

4) Go to Where the People Are

Once, company headquarters and schools delivered hundreds of blood donors in a single afternoon at a single event. In fact, school blood drives accounted for 20% of all blood collected.
Today, with most people working and learning from home, reaching out to apartment complex managers, homeowners associations, churches, and possibly local grocery stores makes more sense. Approach these managers by explaining how a blood drive will lend a much-needed sense of community to their complex or store. Have your safety measures ready to share. Of course, they will need release-of-liability forms.

5) Utilize Blood Donation Equipment that Prioritizes Speed and Accuracy

In today’s anxious environment, blood collection equipment must put donors at ease. Let your sophisticated and unintimidating blood collection and mixing equipment help convince donor candidates their blood donation experience will be seamless, pleasant, and beneficial. Convince the stakeholders of non-traditional blood donation sites to host an event by explaining how your organization uses state-of-the-art blood collection and mixing equipment that:

  • is fully mobile
  • leverages next-generation technology, user-friendly interfaces, and anti-bacterial plastics to minimize the chance of contamination
  • features a bright, full-color touch screen that displays collection data in real-time to diminish errors
  • has long-lasting battery power to accommodate a long, socially distanced line – at least 8 hours is ideal
  • offers flexible speed and accuracy configurations based on user’s needs and limitations so that donations proceed quickly and efficiently
  • is compatible with USB, LAN, and WIFI
  • operates with breakthrough, streamlined software for secure data collection and management
  • comes pre-loaded with software that can be configured to mesh with each country’s blood collection standards
  • uses system alarms that alert practitioners without frightening patients

The Docon®7 blood collection and mixing equipment offers all of these advantages and more.

Docon®7 Blood Donation Devices for Blood Drive Speed, Comfort, and Efficiency

In today’s challenging blood collection climate, labs must deploy every tool to entice donors to their doors. The presence of state-of-the-art blood donation equipment helps to reduce anxiety around donation. When donors return to communities saying their donation was a breeze, they help to recruit more donors.

When it came to crafting Moeller Medical’s Docon®7, our engineers consulted closely with both mobile and stationary blood collection professionals.  Because most laboratory technicians spend much of the day on their feet in an environment where pathogen transmission is common, we knew equipment clarity and comfort would help to reduce the risk of contamination. Docon®7’s accessories include a sealing handle, table, and transport case.