Amid a severe need for blood donations, LifeStream Blood Bank will hold three mobile drives this week in the Coachella Valley, where donors also will be screened for COVID-19 antibodies.

Drives are scheduled Tuesday at St. Francis of Assisi Church, 47225 Washington St. in La Quinta, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., and at Stater Bros. in Palm Springs, 1717 E. Vista Chino, from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. The third drive will be held Friday at Stater Bros. in Desert Hot Springs, 13200 Palm Drive, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Blood collected through donations to LifeStream goes to more than 80 hospitals in Riverside, San Bernardino, Orange, Los Angeles, Ventura and San Diego counties.

LifeStream is struggling to fill its blood drive calendar, which is currently booked at 50% of normal levels. The lack of blood is leaving the nonprofit struggling to collect enough blood for hospitals.

“We really need for community members to either partner with us to schedule blood drives or encourage people to come to our donor centers to donate to make up for the loss of collecting blood on blood drives,” Dr. Rick Axelrod, LifeStream’s CEO and president, told City News Service.

Axelrod said Lifestream has a one-day supply of Group O blood, compared to the normal inventory level of three to five days. The nonprofit is also continually 10% short on platelet donations needed for local hospital patients.

LifeStream typically receives 25% of its annual donations via high school and college campus blood drives, all of which have been canceled through the end of the year due to COVID-19. The canceled drives, which were scheduled between September and December, equate to 7,500 pints of lost blood, Axelrod said.

During the first few weeks of the coronavirus outbreak, protective stay-at-home orders forced the cancellation of more than 80 LifeStream blood drives throughout Southern California, resulting in an additional 5,000 pints of blood effectively lost from mid-March through the end of May.

Potential donors must wear face coverings while donating, have their temperatures checked and complete a review of possible COVID-19 symptoms. They must be at least 15 years old, weigh at least 115 pounds and be free from infections or illnesses.

Donors must not be at risk of having AIDS or hepatitis, and those under 17 years old must bring written consent from a parent.

Donating blood takes about an hour, according to LifeStream. Appointments are recommended, and can be made by calling 800-879-4484 or online at www.lstream.org.

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