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Firefighters Challenge Others To Donate Blood By Donating Blood Too

Some firefighters from the San Antonio Fire Department donated blood Thursday to challenge others to also give blood. San Antonio and South Texas are in a critical shortage.

At the South Texas Blood and Tissue Center, the firefighters donating blood looked pretty comfortable in their plush reclining chairs. Firefighter Jennifer Park says she wouldn’t miss being part of the team.

"We’re all giving; we’re helping save lives, so I have some blood to give, and I’m a common donor, at O Positive. I think it’s a universal, so it helps a lot of people," Park says.

Elizabeth Waltman is the Chief Operations Officer at the center. She says at the moment the blood supply is fine, but San Antonio and South Texas are on the verge of critical need where donations scheduled through the summer are down and the need for blood is rising. And Waltman says donations are down, in part, because the center has had to turn away people who’ve traveled to Zika endemic countries.

She says most of the blood supply is stored at hospitals, and when a hospital needs more blood they contact the center to backfill.

"When there’s a critical need we can’t backfill. And if we can’t backfill, and we can’t get it from another hospital, then it causes a huge concern in the community. Sometimes as a result of that, we may ask for surgeons to cancel elective surgeries, so that all of the blood that is available can be used for the trauma, the life-threatening situations," Waltman says.

But Waltman says blood donations are not needed as often for trauma from car accidents as for burn victims, patients with cancer or who need heart surgery, things like that. It’s those future patients Waltman is thinking about when she says if ever there was a time to give, that time is now.