H1N1 Could Hurt Local Blood Supply

Medical Director Mary J. Townsend
Medical Director Mary J. Townsend

by: Kristen Guilfoos
NewsChannel 10

Amarillo, Texas - Our community could be at risk... Coffee Memorial Blood Center fears their blood supply could quickly become depleted as the H1N1 flu continues to spread across the Panhandle region.

Dennis Brassfield is a regular at the Coffee Memorial Blood Center. "Yeah I donate about every 90 days for the past 25 years."

Lucky for Dennis, he has not yet caught the H1N1 flu. "I can't remember the last time I was sick."

But that's not the case for many other blood center regulars. Medical Director Mary J. Townsend says, "Regular donors will become ill, and we'll have fewer donors coming in."

A shortage of donors means the blood supply, which is in decent shape now, could change overnight, putting the community in danger. If worse came to worst, there might not be blood available for those who need it most.

"We still have patients at the hospital who are having surgeries. We still have oncology patients at the hospital who need platelets and plasma and red cells."

While they're taking blood donations of every type, there's one group of people in particular they are hoping walk through the doors. Surprisingly, it's those who currently have the flu... But don't come in now while you're still sick. They want to see you next week once you're healthy.

Townsend says, "At the point you actually have anti-bodies to H1N1. So if you think about it, the blood that you donate will have H1N1 anti-bodies and that's actually a population we would love to start coming in. Just wait until you're feeling really good."

If you are healthy when you donate blood, but become sick within two days after that, you need to call Coffee Memorial to let them know so they can quarantine the blood, stopping it from transfusion.

The flu and H1N1 vaccines do not affect your blood in any way, so if you had the shot, you are still eligible to donate.