Faith Gauna, 17, started donating blood last year when the South Texas Blood and Tissue Center’s mobile unit visited Victoria East High School.

She donated platelets for the second time on Sunday as blood banks across the country began to experience shortages of blood donations because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I’m helping a person and ceasing my boredom,” Gauna said.

The South Texas Blood and Tissue Center is reducing its hours Monday and will be open for about five hours each day. During the past two weeks, the center had a constant flow of donors coming in.

The center wants to keep the flow of donors constant throughout the pandemic instead of having periods of low donations, said blood bank manager Ron Chavez. Red blood cells have a shelf life of only 42 days.

“We want to be good stewards of the blood supply,” Chavez said. “Right now is a great time to come donate.”

Christina Vasquez, a nurse at the center, attributes it to public officials recommending people to social distance from each other.

“It’s been steady,” Vasquez said. “People have more time to donate since they have to stay home.”

The center also began new procedures when donors come in. Donors cannot enter the building until workers check their temperatures and give them hand sanitizer.

They will also ask a series of questions such as whether they’re experiencing any symptoms of COVID-19 and whether they traveled outside the country or have been on a cruise in the past 28 days.

Donors can give blood every eight weeks or platelets every seven to eight days.

Chavez said he wants community support during the pandemic as more areas experience problems associated with COVID-19.

“The one thing we will see constantly is how the community comes together,” Chavez said. “We came together as a country after 9/11; we did it after Hurricane Harvey and now we are going to do it with COVID-19.”

I am a photojournalist with a passion for local journalism and also love to meet new people.

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