US Representative Darin LaHood, R-Peoria, hopes to set an example by encouraging people to donate blood as the ongoing supply of impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic.
LaHood made a donation of his own Tuesday at the newly renamed ImpactLife blood center on Glen Avenue in Peoria, noting how critical the blood supply to the healthcare system is.
“As we’ve seen in the past 15 months with COVID, blood donations have dropped 30-40% across the country,” said LaHood. “So I think it’s important to recognize that and encourage people to donate blood.”
Previously known by three different regional names, ImpactLife is the nonprofit community blood center that serves more than 120 hospitals in Illinois, Iowa, Missouri and Wisconsin – including OSF HealthCare and UnityPoint Health in Peoria.
“We are the only blood supplier to central Illinois,” said Jim Watts, ImpactLife’s government and donor relations manager.
“At the moment, we still see an urgent need for blood donation. We need people to leave now; we need people to come this week, ”said Watts. “We are waiting for about a day or two to supply our O-negative and O-positive blood, and we need the other blood types as well.”
LaHood arrived at the facility around 11 am to provide a complete blood donation, which is made up of red blood cells, platelets and plasma.
“Our hospitals and medical facilities need blood. We need it every day, our medical professionals, whether for surgery, for adults or children or the elderly, ”said LaHood. “I am really here today to encourage people to donate blood and to remind them of how important this is to our health system”
Watts said COVID-19 has undermined the agency’s ability to make mobile blood donations.
“The pandemic is still having an effect on us,” said Watts. “People are working from home, so our mobile blood donations at some companies are not happening. Our blood donations in high schools are not happening. Therefore, we continue to see this crisis. “
But he emphasized that donating blood remains a safe procedure and, as in almost everywhere else, extra precautions are being taken to prevent the spread of any type of virus.
“We are already very regulated, as it should be for blood and blood donation,” he said. “But we are taking extra steps just to make sure that all of our contact surfaces are clean. Of course, everyone is wearing a mask, and we are asking people to make an appointment so that people are not just coming in and we can keep this flow of donors. ”
The renaming of the blood center officially took effect on Monday, with ImpactLife replacing the old identities: Central Illinois Community Blood Center (based in Springfield), Community Blood Services of Illinois (Urbana) and Mississippi Valley Regional Blood Center (Davenport, Iowa)
“Obviously, that alone takes a mouthful to say. It was based on geography, with separate blood centers that … eventually came together years ago, ”said Watts. “It made sense for us to come together under the same name.”
Originally established independently in the 1970s, the three organizations merged into a single entity a decade ago. The renaming project took an entire year and included contributions from donors, blood donation coordinators, hospital representatives and the board.
“We went through an entire process to think of a new name. We did a survey with our employees, our partners in the community, went to the public to find a name that was right for us, ”said Watts. “We thought:‘ What a better name than ImpactLife ’- what we do, what our donors do and the impact they have on people’s lives.”
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