August is St. Michael’s Virtual Blood Drive Month!
One of the many things to be cancelled due to the pandemic was the St. Michael’s blood drive scheduled for May. Inova Blood Donor Services has suspended blood drives out in the community, but has continued to accept donations at three of their permanent collection facilities around the region where they can more easily control social distancing and clean surfaces between donors.
Over the Fourth of July weekend, the Ruff family of four gave blood. We made back to back appointments so we could all go in at the same time. It was even the first time donating for two of us. The donation center in Annandale was a short trip away, and it was a well-run organization. We showed up wearing masks, of course, and were buzzed into the building after they confirmed we had appointments. There was a hand sanitizing station just inside the door. The waiting area had empty chairs spaced far apart. They gave us forms to fill out and asked us to keep the pens after we used them. There was more hand sanitizer at the counter, in case we felt the need for it after touching the clipboards. We were called back to the interview rooms one by one, and when I pulled down my mask momentarily to have my temperature taken with a disposable thermometer, the smell of cleanser in the room was strong. When it was our turn, we were each led to the donation cots, which were spaced 6 feet apart. After I was finished, I saw them wipe down my entire cot with sanitizing wipes. We waited for a bit in the canteen, and that felt a little weird, pulling down my mask to drink from a bottle, but again, the smell of cleanser everywhere was strong. On the way out, we walked past a large bulletin board that was covered with countless thank you letters, overlapping, hanging off the edges, typed, handwritten and with photos spilling out of most of them. All were from recipients of much needed blood donations. I could have stood there reading those letters for an hour. I always knew my blood donations over the years were helping people, but seeing their stories really drove it home.
So what is a virtual blood drive? Here’s how it works:
Just go to the Inova Blood Donor Services website at https://www.inovablood.org/donate-blood/make-an-appointment/ and sign up to donate blood in August. It’s important to make an appointment. Then after you donate, let me know, and I’ll keep track of how many donors we provide. When you show up to fill out the paperwork, you can even provide our organization number, which is 8406, so they can more easily track us. Are you travelling? Spending the summer somewhere else? Feel free to contact the American Red Cross where you are, and donate locally. Just let me know, and I’ll track it. Email me at [email protected]. And while this is meant as an August drive, you can of course donate after the end of the month, and I will track it if you let me know. Thanks for saving a life!
St. Michael's regularly partners with INOVA to hosts blood drives. It’s something that’s easy to do and really makes a significant difference in someone else’s life. Stay tuned for the date of our next blood drive.