Oklahoma Blood Institute creates hotline to help encourage blood donation

Plamedie Ifasso
The Daily Ardmoreite

The Oklahoma Blood Institute launched a new donor eligibility hotline to help people discover if they’re eligible to donate blood. 

The hotline allows donors to ask confidential questions about whether or not they’re eligible to donate. The hotline also aims at debunking some of the misconceptions about blood donor eligibility. 

Michelle McGuire, Senior Account Manager at the Ardmore Center, hopes that the hotline will encourage those who were eligible but didn’t know to donate. 

“We’ve never had this before,” McGuire said. “This is something new for donors who have questions on whether or not they can donate blood or not. I’m super excited about this. There are so many questions like, ‘I’m diabetic. Can I donate blood.” Or I’m taking this medication. Can I donate blood? Hopefully this will help us kind of capture some of those donors.” 

McGuire said that the Oklahoma Blood Institute has had low blood supply since the pandemic began. 

“We’ve been low since COVID hit,” McGuire said. “It’s been an ongoing struggle, but this blood emergency has been going on for about a week and a half now. This is the worst we’ve seen in decades. It’s not only Oklahoma. It’s a nationwide shortage.”

During the worst of the pandemic, the organization couldn’t have blood drives at schools and businesses like they normally did, and the lack of blood drives hurt their blood supply. McGuire said the Oklahoma Blood Institute has not managed to catch back up and get their supply back to where it used to be.

“Now recently the latest blood emergency is from increased hospital usage,” McGuire said. “We can’t just make it up on our collections. We’re just not collecting what we used to.” 

Interested donors can call the hotline at 888-308-3924 to ask questions about their eligibility and find if they can donate. 

“They can also go to our website, obi.org, to find a blood drive near them,” McGuire said. “They just click find a blood drive and put in their zip code, and that will pull up all the blood drives in their area. They can also come to our Ardmore donor center at 2235 Merrick Drive and donate blood. So either they come to us or we come to them.”