SAN ANTONIO – Next time you ask yourself whether you should donate blood, Kevin and Julie Barton said they hope you think of their family and so many others like them.
Last summer, two weeks after their first-born, Logan Cooper Barton, came into their lives, Julie Barton suffered a serious complication. The placenta had gone into her uterine wall.
“Knowing that the blood supply was low, I was very fearful,” Julie Barton said.
She said she’d heard news reports about the chronic blood shortages at the South Texas Blood and Tissue Center due to the pandemic.
Despite that, Barton said she received the blood transfusions and plasma she needed because of someone being generous enough to give blood.
“To whoever donated blood, you’re my superhero. I will probably never meet you to thank you personally, but right here, right now, I’m saying thank you so much,” Kevin Barton said. “You not only allowed me to keep my wife, but son gets to keep his mom.”
Yet the South Texas Blood and Tissue Center that serves 100 hospitals in 40 counties, from the Rio Grande Valley up to Lubbock, has had a persistent, critical shortage of blood for months due to the pandemic.
“Most of our hospitals, if not all of them, are operating with 30% to 50% of what their normal inventory would be of blood,” said Elizabeth Waltman, the center’s chief operating officer.
Waltman said she considers the blood shortage to be “a secondary public health crisis.”
The holidays also are when blood donations drop off even more, but the demand goes up as more accidents occur at home or on the road, on top of any violent crimes in the community.
There also are patients who need blood daily, Waltman said.
“Cancer survivors, people who are undergoing surgery, and women who are delivering babies and maybe even pediatric patients that are suffering from some form of cancer or anemia,” she said.
Kevin Barton said he’s always given blood, but he never fully realized how donations can impact people’s lives or entire families until his wife’s close call.
Julie Barton said instead of wondering what to give someone for Christmas, “I think we need to sit back and think about how can we help our fellow man, help our community. And what a better gift than giving the gift of life?”
You can find information about how and where to donate blood on the South Texas Blood and Tissue website by clicking here.