Flu outbreak affecting Texoma hospitals' blood supply

Flu outbreak affecting Texoma hospitals' blood supply
© Texoma schools closing because of the flu is affecting blood donations.
© Texoma schools closing because of the flu is affecting blood donations.

WICHITA FALLS, Tx (RNN Texoma) - The flu epidemic has shut down Texoma school districts and caused a significant drop in blood donations.

More than 20-percent of the area hospital blood supply comes from high school blood drives. With schools closing due to the flu, that collection supply is lowering.

"We're starting in with a high number of influenza b cases so people that have already had the flu this year are getting the flu again," Kristina Halberg a nurse practitioner at CommunityMed Urgent Care said. "It's kind of scary out there for people."

Texas Blood Institute Recruitment Manager Mary Spannagel said anyone with the flu or flu-like symptoms cannot donate blood until a week after they feel better.

The blood donation has begun to ask the healthy public to fill the 20-percent void. The blood donation site is the only location that supplies hospitals in Wichita Falls.

"We're hoping people become regular blood donors so its never an issue," Spannagel said. "It will always be there for that to happen we need people to come out and donate blood."

James Ivey decided to step up and help. He donates three times a year. It is something he started to do in high school.

"It's one of the simplest ways to really, really have a big impact towards helping other people," Ivey said.

The one pint of blood he donated can save up to three lives. The blood donation site receives around 6,000 units of blood every year.

Spannagel said a blood donation during a miscarriage helped saver were.

"They were having trouble stopping me from bleeding so that was the issue," Spannagel said.

She said many people do not expect it to happen to them but are relieved when there is enough of a supply in an emergency.

As of now, the blood donation site has a one-day reserve supply of O-negative blood. Spannagel said they would like to have at least a three-day reserve supply.

Halberg said the flu outbreak may continue for at least another eight weeks.

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