Disaster Relief: Oklahomans Send Blood Donations To Help Texas Tornado Survivors

Oklahomans are doing all they can to help victims of the Texas tornado that killed at least three people and injured nearly 70 people. Blood is a major need, so a group of blood collectors across the country is stepping in to help.

Friday, June 16th 2023, 10:16 pm



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Oklahomans are doing all they can to help victims of the Texas tornado that killed at least three people and injured nearly 70 people.

Blood is a major need, so a group of blood collectors across the country is stepping in to help.

This is the fifth time the national Blood Emergency Readiness Corps (BERC) has provided blood during a national emergency.

OBI in Oklahoma said they started shipping blood to Texas Thursday night, and that's made Oklahoma's supply low, so other states are now helping us.

Tornados ripped up the town of Perryton, Texas, sending dozens of people to hospitals, some with serious injuries.

Several hospitals in the area contacted 'Our Blood Institute' in desperate need of blood.

"There are bad, bad things that happen when you don't have enough blood. People die. Particularly trauma patients. They're on a clock. It's the magic golden hour. You want to make sure that you're not the one that dropped the clock on them, didn't have that blood," said Dr. John Armitage, 'Our Blood Institute' CEO. "Imagine all the work. It goes, you've got somebody buried in a tornado ravaged building in Perryton. They make it LifeFlight them to Amarillo. They get them into the ER. Get them to the OR and then there's not enough blood. You've just let down that whole series of caregivers. We never want to be in the situation where we're the dead end in a process that's just tuned to save as many lives as possibles."

The hospital group that was formed two years helps send blood to any part of the country experiencing a crisis.

A large supply of blood from Oklahoma City got shipped to Texas.

Dr. John Armitage said this drained Oklahoma's supply and OBI had to scramble to find blood for here so they can be proactive and not reactive if a crisis strikes here.

He said OBI is the fifth largest independent blood center in the US with about 1,000 employees stretching into parts of Arkansas and Texas; he said OBI is the predominant supplier in the state, providing more than 85-percent of the blood used in Oklahoma.

"It's kind of an extra safety net that if the critical need is so high locally, we can ask for some help really quickly. We're already pre-set. They're already units on call essentially waiting to be delivered to us. So, it's an insurance policy that protects everyone and it also is a wonderful example of collaboration," said Dr. Armitage. "We don't want any of our healthcare providers to have the added worry of blood distracting them or taking away their time just consuming the valuable resources; so, the safer the blood supply the more of a buffer we have against shortage the smoother it all runs the less anxiety the more focus on care."

Armitage said with blood donations it takes a couple days to do testing, paperwork, label the units and ship them. So those who donated two days ago are now saving Texans' lives.

"You're on the shelf right now ready to go or is maybe even been transfused and is now inside somebody helping them heal," said Dr. Armitage.

Dr. Armitage said they're experiencing a sort of COVID hangover and never rebounded to the donation levels they were accustomed to pre-pandemic.

Donations are down about six-percent compared to a year ago and they're missing about one in every 16 donors.

Dr. Armitage said they need that kind of protection every day, not just after a tornado.

He said folks who donated today are helping replenish Oklahoma's stock, and that will help people like accident victims, cancer patients and women delivering babies.

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