Columbiana holding blood drive during critical need

By SASHA JOHNS / Community Columnist

“We were already in a place of constant need. The donor pool will only get smaller as the pandemic spreads, so it is critical that we collect as many donations as possible right now.” These are the words of Laura McCormick, a local account manager for the Red Cross.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Red Cross has lost over 6,000 units in pledged donations.

McCormick has worked with local blood drive volunteer coordinator Renee Wilder for several years in Columbiana, setting up blood donation events in honor of Wilder’s daughter, Mollie Wilder, who is a childhood cancer survivor.

The Red Cross is taking extra steps to make meeting the critical need for blood a safe process for donors and workers. (Contributed)

Wilder started the drive in April 2014 when her daughter needed blood after chemotherapy, and there was no product in her type available.

“I never want anyone to feel the helplessness I felt in that moment,” she said. “Now, more than ever, the need for blood is essential during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Wilder is currently organizing a blood drive at the Columbiana Rec Center on April 17 from 2-7 p.m.

While it may seem like an intimidating time to give blood, the safety measures being taken by the Red Cross make giving blood safer than many other necessary activities Americans are still to participating in daily.

Donors are always encouraged to use the fast pass technology found in the Red Cross app before they arrive.

This step is critical now more than ever.

There are protocols that will look different to regular donors during this time, such as temperature checks that need to be done before even entering the rec center to begin the donation process.

Red Cross employees will be wearing masks to protect donors, as well as gloves that will be changed with each donor interaction.

There will be the constant use of hand sanitizer for donors as they go through the stations to donate, and each bed will be sanitized thoroughly after each donation is completed.

Social distancing will be strictly maintained between donors, but as each donor makes it to the table, they will have to work with Red Cross workers to complete the donations as safely as possible.

Workers themselves must also do temperature before reporting to work, and will not be allowed to work if they have an elevated temperature.

“Mollie’s need is what makes me understand everyone else’s needs,” Wilder said. “I had always been a donor before my child needed blood, but the true need did not hit home until it was my child that needed it.”
Afraid of needles? Wilder would gently urge you to face that fear.

“Keep in mind that people in critical need of blood don’t like needles either. Unfortunately for them, needles become a daily part of survival that demands they overcome that fear. We only ask that those who can, do work to overcome their fear to provide something only they can give to save lives.”

To sign up in advance for the April 17 blood drive, go to the Red Cross website and click on “Give Blood.”

You can then type in your zip code to find the Columbiana Rec Center blood drive.