The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have reached blood banks across Brazil, according to health officials. Since much of the population is following shelter-in-place orders, blood donations have decreased, and blood banks are suffering from low inventories.
Regional health officials reported that Rio de Janeiro saw a 50-percent drop in blood donations. São Paulo reported a 30-percent drop, and a 25-percent drop was reported in the capital city of Brasilia. At the same time, the demand for blood in health facilities across the country remains high.
Thinking of ways to serve in these challenging times, young Seventh-day Adventist church members across the country have been organizing to support blood banks in major cities. In São Paulo, for instance, a group named “Doadores ADV” (“Adventist Donors”) creates schedules to line up volunteer donors in various blood banks across the area.
“We also provide transportation to potential donors from their homes to the nearest blood bank and back,” organizers reported.
In the northern city of Manaus, Adventists have scheduled blood donors’ visits at a local blood bank for every Saturday until the end of 2020. “We plan to donate 4,000 blood bags before the end of the year,” leaders behind the initiative said.
Local and regional drives are part of a more comprehensive initiative across the region, which zeroes in on Jesus’ sacrifice and His followers’ desire to sacrifice something for Him. This year, blood drives were combined with an annual collection drive that takes place around Easter, which seeks to provide comfort and essential items to people in need.
To ensure the safety of everyone involved in these initiatives, young people are encouraged to donate individually to avoid crowding in blood centers, which are working only by appointment. Organizers advise potential donors to contact their nearest blood bank directly in those places where schedules have not been set.
“We are following all the regulations and standards set by the Ministry of Health,” organizers emphasized.
At the same time, government officials reminded potential donors that a blood bank is one of the safest places to be. “If there is a protected place, it is the blood bank,” said David Uip, a physician and coordinator of the São Paulo Coronavirus Contingency Center. “Everything is very sterile there, and we strictly follow the health guidelines.”
About the Blood Donor Drive
The Adventist-sponsored blood donor drive was born out of an Adventist youth initiative in 2005. Since then, it has provided Brazilian health centers with thousands of blood and bone marrow donors. Most donations take place around Easter, even though dozens of initiatives take place throughout the year.
The drive combines a community service initiative with the core of the gospel message, leaders said.
“It’s about following the example of Jesus,” they said. “As our drive motto says, ‘He gave it all so you could give away a little.’”