Blood donations needed to help with low supplies caused by Harvey disaster

United Blood Services asking public for help

Blood donations needed to help...

SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. - A little poke of a needle can make a big impact, especially right now.

"It's really about saving lives and helping," said blood donor Christi Allison.

Blood donations are needed more than ever before due to the ongoing crisis in southeast Texas caused by Hurricane Harvey.

"In Houston, they're going through a lot of stuff," said United Blood Services marketing manager Sergio Coppa. "A lot of their blood centers and mobile blood drives, they're cancelling those."

According to Coppa, the cancellations and closures are taking a big hit on blood supplies, not only in the Houston area, but throughout the country as well.

"The nation's blood supply is in a crisis, so we're helping replenish other blood centers that have supplied Houston," said Coppa. "They're running in short supply there, so we've been asked to help them."

United Blood Services, which has offices in San Luis Obispo, Santa Maria, Santa Barbara and Ventura is in turn asking the public to take part.

It's part of an effort with other blood centers in a 28-state network that helps stock the nation's blood supply.

"It's a great way to give back," said Coppa. "Donating blood is going to save lives. Not just here in this community, it's going to help communities throughout the nation, so if you're looking to do something to help, this is a great way."

Allison agrees. She's been donating blood for about three years and is proud to help others in need.

"I love to be able to help people anyway and knowing that my donation can help to save lives not only here, but in Houston, the rewards are amazing," said Allison. "Hearing stories about kids, about adults, anybody who received anything that has received anything from my donation is awesome."

She adds that giving blood is easy, painless and doesn't takes a lot of time.

"You don't even have to look at the needle as it goes in," Allison said. "It's not hard. They totally work with you what you're able to do, what blood type you have and how much time you have."

All blood types are needed, but particularly O negative, which is the universal blood that can be used by any patient, especially in emergencies.

"When there's not enough time to type in someone's blood type, doctors will give that patient O negative," Coppa said. "O negative is always needed."

Coppa adds those who wish to donate will go through a brief screening process.

People who have certain medical conditions, are taking certain prescriptions, or have recently traveled to countries with diseases such as Zika and malaria are not allowed to donate.

Those that are able to donate are providing help that even money cannot provide.

"You can give money as well, that helps too, but that can't be replaced," said Allison. "You can't just go out and buy blood donations. People have to be willing to give of themselves to do that and it saves lives."

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