Over the past two weeks, San Antonio’s main blood bank has seen its supplies drop from seven to eight days’ worth to enough blood for only two days, one of its executives said Sunday.
Joining local officials at a daily briefing on the coronavirus pandemic, Elizabeth Waltman, South Texas Blood and Tissue Center’s chief operating officer, said blood stocks have dwindled after nonessential surgeries resumed this month.
To address the shortage, Waltman said the center is holding a three-day blood drive at the Alamodome. The Double Down in SA Town drive will be held 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. May 21 to 23 at the sporting arena, at 100 Montana St. east of downtown. To make an appointment, which is necessary for controlling the flow of donors and maintaining social distancing, visit the blood drive’s website.
“This is the blood that we will need to get us through the Memorial Day holiday and also help us have a little bit of extra blood as we try to figure out where we’re going to get all of these donors as we move forward,” Waltman said.
Donors will receive a $10 H-E-B gift card, and Silverado Event Center will make a $5 gift to the San Antonio Food Bank for each person who donates, Waltman said.
“You can donate blood, you can save a life, you can help make food available for families that are struggling,” she said.
In March, the blood bank held a mass drive at the Alamodome that built up an effective stockpile during the height of San Antonio’s stay-home order, Waltman said.
But patients are needing more blood as medical procedures resume and vehicle crashes pick up again on local highways. The virus also has led to the cancellation of 120 blood summer drive events, she said.
Waltman was joined at the briefing by Paul Balsadua, a San Antonio resident who advocates for plasma donation after his recovery from COVID-19. The Food and Drug Administration has approved the use of such convalescent plasma on a trial basis.
“There are few things more rewarding than knowing that you can help a member of your community,” Basaldua said.
Scientists have not yet proven the safety and effectiveness of treatment with the antibodies from survivors’ plasma, yet Balsadua said he believes in the treatment because of the stories of people who have had good results.
“There’s no definitive answer either way,” Basaldua said. “But the reason that I’m excited about giving is that I’m always someone that’s a very proud San Antonian. I love my fellow San Antonians and I think that we should all try to help each other through this time.”
The pleas to donate blood and plasma come as gyms and office buildings prepare to reopen Monday. Gov. Greg Abbott is expected to announce the loosening of more restrictions, including possibly reopening bars.
At the briefing, Nirenberg urged residents to continue abiding by health officials’ recommendations of standing at least 6 feet apart, wearing face coverings in situations when separation is difficult, and self-quarantining when sick.
“Our ability to contain and ultimately end this pandemic is ultimately all about public trust,” Nirenberg said. He said public trust in health officials is key to people following their guidance, whether it’s “mandated or simply recommended.”
City officials did not release new coronavirus numbers over the weekend to offer a break to the City staff who compile the data. As of Friday, 2,120 Bexar County residents have ever tested positive for the virus. Of those, 1,071 have recovered, with 987 still ill. The local death toll is 67.