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The Ultimate Gift: Giving Blood During Times of Need

Health Hub
Author name: Lee Health

The season of holiday giving may have just ended, but generosity is a good way to live year-round. So why not gift someone with the gift of life—a blood donation! Especially now, when blood donations have fallen off and our area’s blood supply is dangerously low.

“The pandemic has created a big demand for blood donations in Southwest Florida,” says Jeremy Puckett, blood center supervisor with Lee Health. “Our blood collections are low because the number of people visiting our area is down. Our seasonal residents and tourists have always gifted us with blood donations, but the numbers just aren’t there this year.”

Puckett says Lee Health’s blood donor program is a hospital-based one, which means that donations stay in the community.

In other words, a blood donation with Lee Health Blood Center—even just a single pint—can help save the lives of both children and adults who are patients at Cape Coral Hospital, Gulf Coast Medical Center, HealthPark Medical Center and Lee Memorial Hospital, which houses the only Trauma Center within a five-county radius.

Puckett adds that blood donations also benefit patients at Golisano Children's Hospital of Southwest Florida, the Rehabilitation Hospital and patients receiving treatment at the Regional Cancer Center and Lee Health Coconut Point.

“Donations can be separated into its different components; the platelets may go to a child with leukemia, the plasma to a patient with a clotting problem, and the red blood cells to an accident victim,” Puckett explains. “The entire life-saving process takes about 45 minutes. The actual donation time is only 5-10 minutes.”

The Safe, Effective Bloodmobile

Because the blood used for patient care has to be continuously replenished to maintain a constant blood supply, Lee Health Blood Centers need a total of 800 donors a week.

Puckett says that because of COVID-19, the usual number of larger, local businesses and organizations that typically sponsor blood drives this time of year also has dropped.

“But we’re still open for partnering with local communities and businesses to set up mobile blood drives,” he says. “For example, we’d like to continue working with and developing new partnerships with the 55-and-over retirement communities in the area. These are a vital and much-valued resource for our blood centers.”

Puckett says the bloodmobiles and its employees strictly adhere to all CDC guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19 during blood drives.

“We’re limiting the number of people inside the bloodmobile as well as requiring all participants and workers to wear masks, stay socially distanced, and regularly sanitize their hands. As a matter of protocol when donating blood, we’ll take your temperature anyway, which is another CDC safety recommendation.”

To donate blood, you must:

  • Weigh at least 115 pounds
  • Be at least 17 years old, or 16 with parental consent
  • Provide photo ID, if you’re a new donor

How do I get the bloodmobile to come to my place of employment?

  • Get a group of people willing to donate
  • Call the Lee Health Blood Center to schedule a time and day at 239-343-2333 or email Shannon.Flory@LeeHealth.org

The Lee Health Bloodmobile will be at numerous locations throughout Southwest Florida in January.

  • Jan. 11: Lynx Services, 6351 Bayshore Road, Suite 18, N. Fort Myers, 2 p.m. – 5 p.m.
  • Jan. 12: Babcock Ranch Healthy Life Center, 42880 Crescent Loop #100, Punta Gorda, Noon – 5 p.m.
  • Jan. 12: Florida Gulf Coast University, 10501 FGCU Blvd. S, Fort Myers, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
  • Jan. 14: Lee County Sheriff’s Office, 14750 Six Mile Cypress Pkwy., Fort Myers, 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.
  • Jan. 19: Kiwanis Club of Cape Coral, 360 Santa Barbara Blvd., Cape Coral, 2 p.m. – 5 p.m.
  • Jan. 26: Greater Fort Myers Chamber of Commerce, 2310 Edwards Dr., Fort Myers, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.

A COVID-19 Survivor? Your Antibodies May Help Save Lives!

If you have recovered from diagnosed COVID-19, you may be eligible to give convalescent plasma. Plasma from COVID-19 survivors has proven an effective treatment for those still battling the virus.

Here’s how the donation program works at Lee Health:

  • Individuals who have previously tested positive for COVID-19 whose symptoms have resolved for at least 14 days can volunteer to donate blood.
  • Donors are screened by clinical personnel with questions and tests to make sure they are appropriate to donate blood that will be processed to make COVID-19 convalescent plasma.
  • Documented routine blood donation consent is required; forms provided by Lee Health.
  • If potential donors are appropriate, an appointment for blood donation is scheduled at a Lee Health donation site.

To volunteer, call 239-343-2332 or email COVID.plasma@LeeHealth.org