PIKEVILLE, Ky. The Kentucky Blood Center is in need of blood donations to help keep hospitals stocked.
Healthcare facilities across the region are running low on blood as the number of donations has plummeted.
"People have been afraid to donate blood," said Pikeville Medical Center RN Breanna Parker.
Parker said that fear, caused by COVID-19, has left the hospital's blood bank in short supply. The hospital has had to rely on blood from out of state to keep its patients healthy.
"So our need for blood is great here. We are at a critical shortage at the organization. We use on average, 900 blood products a month," she said.
Now, as restrictions begin to lift across the commonwealth, medical professionals worry that the currently-dwindling blood supply will not be enough to take care of potential patients.
"We have opened up elective cases. With that, our volume has increased with the demand for blood," said Parker. "But trauma? You never know what's coming in."
Blood centers are still open and accepting donations with extended hours. The Pikeville location was offering free movie tickets and gift cards to donors and is now offering free t-shirts. According to Kentucky Blood Center Team Leader Sarah Anderson, those incentives are the center's way of boosting numbers. But, she added, the gift of saving a life is one that can not be understated.
"Donating blood is, honestly, it's just a selfless act," Anderson said.
Medical professionals said Memorial Day weekend is usually a hard-hitting day for blood banks, with traumas and other medical issues sending many people to the hospital.
"We are really asking people to come out and donate because this is a big weekend. People get out and travel," said Anderson.
One blood donation, which takes around 30 minutes, can be used to save up to three lives.
"It takes no time to come in, roll up your sleeve and donate," said Anderson. "Each unit that is donated will save a life."
KBC Vice President of Internal Relations Mandy Brajuha said the center has seen an increase in the need for blood and encourages donors to come out. But she says there is no danger of the hospitals running out of blood at this time.
“We supply all of the blood to PMC and while we have seen an increase in usage, Pikeville Medical Center has never been without blood or in low supply,” Brajuha said. “There is not a critical shortage.”
Blood centers across the state continue to operate with COVID-19 safety procedures in place, providing a sanitary donation station.