1 Year Of COVID-19 Creates Challenges For Oklahoma Blood Institute

Sunday, March 7th 2021, 5:22 pm


The Oklahoma Blood Institute said it is always in need of blood, but this past year, the need was significantly outweighed by the supply.

The OBI said it was able to push through with toughness, kindness and being able to adapt.

When the Oklahoma City Thunder-Utah Jazz game was canceled last March 11 due to COVID-19, OBI president and chief executive officer John Armitage said he knew things were getting serious. 

“We really loved our playbook,” Armitage said. “It was like Tom Brady. We could go to the playbook and run and Tampa Bay or the Patriots would win all the time because we had a great playbook and a great team. But this (the coronavirus) disrupted it. We went from playing football to somebody saying you're a great football team, but now play soccer for a while.”

Around 5,000 blood drives across the state were canceled.

“It was tough. When you're used to doing something successfully, and somebody says, ‘No, you can't go to a school for the next five months because they're all closed.’ And that's 20 percent of the blood that you bring in,” Armitage said.

The OBI provides blood to 90 percent of the state. As COVID-19 cases grew, the rise meant the number of hospitalizations were increasing which created a higher demand for blood.

But Armitage said failing wasn't an option. The institute began accepting donors who were willing to give convalescent plasma.

Blood drives began to pick up and people in the community also contributed.

“If I can help someone, it's the right thing to do,” donor George Harper said.

The OBI said it's people like Harper that helped them stay afloat during the last 12 months.

“Come on virus, we're winning. We absolutely are winning against a pandemic,” Armitage said. “It’s taken us a year which in the grand scheme of things is not very long.”