KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Blood donations have come a long way since their origins and subsequent boom in usage following World War I.
And this year, like in years past, the National WWI Museum and Memorial hosted its Black Friday blood drive. But this time, it was in the midst of another confusing international crisis in the form of COVID-19.
In the lobby of the museum he’s visited many times before, Mark Hatfield waited on approval to donate blood.
“You gotta have some degree of normalcy. It’s crazy, crazy time. I’ve never seen anything like it,” the Vietman War veteran said.
Hatfield had a quiet Thanksgiving this year, he said, after recently losing his wife and with COVID-19 concerns high.
“I also host a veterans luncheon once a month, first Tuesday every month. I’m not sure if I’m going to have it December,” Hatfield said.
The COVID-19 threat has also affected the Community Blood Center. They typically like to have seven days’ worth of blood on hand. Recently, they’ve had moments with less than a two-day supply.
Community Blood Center staff member Cierra Pritchett said people should seriously think about donating now. That notably includes people who’ve had COVID-19.
“Convalescent plasma is plasma taken from patients — recovered patients — of COVID-19, and we then use that as a therapy for those who are suffering from COVID-19 currently,” Pritchett said.
“This is actually a pretty interesting blood drive considering the fact that WWI actually has connections to blood donation. Back then they would actually hook up the patient to the recipient,” Pritchett said.
“Obviously we don’t do that anymore,” Pritchett added.
“It was pretty crude back then to do the way they did it then. It’s a lot more hygienic now,” Hatfield said.
Leaving the room, Hatfield said that, sadly but understandably, he was turned away from donating blood. For him it was another disappointment in 2020.
“I had skin cancer on my nose previously, and it has to be a year after that procedure until I can give blood apparently,” Hatfield said.
“They should have jumped right to 2021,” Hatfield said with a laugh. Don’t worry; he still received a free t-shirt.