As Hurricane Harvey’s devastation leaves Texas in need of help, the Oklahoma Blood Institute is calling on Oklahomans to donate blood to help those impacted in the storm’s wake.
Hospitals in Houston, Corpus Christie and Galveston were evacuated to North Texas, and with an influx of patients who may need blood, it can be difficult for cities to supply the demand. Not to mention those who were injured in the flooding.
OBI has already sent 300 units of blood and 25 units of platelets to areas affected by flooding, but it’s not enough. Affected hospitals have asked for 400 more units to be sent this week.
“We have to support that area for a while,” said Susan Crews, Executive Director of the Ardmore and Ada OBI centers. “The patients are there and need blood. People don’t realize, but the need is steady every day. We need about 1,000 donors a day to support OBI, and when you add disasters like this it’s worse.”
Ardmore local David Olmos, who donates regularly, was at the Southern Oklahoma Blood Institute in Ardmore Tuesday donating platelets. Olmos is a preacher who believes in helping where he can. He said he hadn’t been to donate in a while, but Harvey’s devastation reminded him that he could help.
“Not everyone can give money, but you can give blood,” Olmos said. “I’ve been trying to donate more regularly because I can give and there are people who can’t. After my baby was born… after you bring life into the world, there’s something about wanting to keep life in this world.”
Though all blood types are needed, those with O positive and O negative are highly sought after. O positive because it’s one of the most common blood types and O negative because it is the most rare and is compatible with any blood type.
As of Monday afternoon, nine people were reported dead as a result of the storm, and that number could increase as flooding continues into Thursday. Forecasters predict the area could see as much as 20 more inches of rain. Flooding could linger for months, leaving more than 30,000 people displaced from their homes.
President Donald Trump declared Texas an emergency disaster area. National Guard have been sent to the area to assist local law enforcement agencies rescue efforts.
In Louisiana, the flooding is being measured in feet and forecasters expect at least two feet of rainfall to fall in some areas.
Though the hurricane is gone, flooding continues and it’s unclear how long it will take for cities to return to normal.
With highways transformed into rivers, those hospitalized in affected cities need blood at a time when local centers are inoperable.
“This particular situation has caused many centers to shut down,” said Heather Browne, OBI marketing and media manager. “Even if you’ve never donated before this could be a good time to try as the storm damage could go on for months. It’s important to donate year round, but it’s really important to shore up the need in times of disaster because people can’t donate in those areas.”
On Friday, the OBI Ardmore location, 1420 Veterans Blvd., will be providing all beef hotdogs, chips and cookies to those who donate blood or platelets. The center is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. on Saturday. Donors should expect it to take around one hour to donate blood, and two hours to donate platelets.
Those who want to donate can check obi.org to find the nearest permanent or mobile location.