Malibu, UCLA Health join together to host community blood drive

The City of Malibu teamed up with UCLA Health last Friday to host a blood drive at City Hall, bolstering the supply of much-needed blood for local UCLA hospital facilities: UCLA Santa Monica, UCLA Ronald Reagan and UCLA Mattel Children’s Hospital.

“Giving blood is one of the most powerful ways to make a big difference for people whose lives depend on donated blood,” Malibu Mayor Paul Grisanti said in a prepared statement. “It’s yet another positive sign of the improving COVID-19 rates that we can once again host an in-person blood drive at City Hall.”

UCLA Blood Drive Coordinator Terri Hill said that 19 people had signed up online in advance for the Malibu City Hall blood drive, and that she also expected to have some walk-ins.

The entire blood donation process only takes about 45 minutes, Hill said. There’s paperwork to fill out and vital signs like blood pressure are taken; then the donor relaxes on a bed while donating blood, which takes 10 to 15 minutes. Then comes the fun part — going to the snack table to sit down and munch on cookies and other snacks.

At the end, each Malibu blood donor was rewarded with the choice of an AMC movie ticket or an In-N-Out Burger gift card.

The Malibu Times’ own Anthony McDemas may be one of the town’s biggest blood drive promoters. He received three units of donated blood last year due to complications from cancer treatment, and credits it with saving his life. 

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He said all of his blood drive promotion efforts in the community “is me paying back those units. Paying it back, and paying it forward.”

In January 2022, the American Red Cross declared its first-ever national blood crisis. The nonprofit organization, which supplies about 40 percent of blood in the U.S., said they were experiencing the worst blood shortage in over a decade.

The City of Malibu teamed up with UCLA Health last Friday to host a blood drive at City Hall, bolstering the supply of much-needed blood for local UCLA hospital facilities: UCLA Santa Monica, UCLA Ronald Reagan and UCLA Mattel Children’s Hospital. Photo by Jimy Tallal/TMT.

The COVID-19 pandemic severely reduced blood donations and supplies due to facility closures, stay-at-home orders and medical staff shortages for nearly two years.

National Public Radio also reported on the significant drop in blood donations during the pandemic, with a 10 percent overall blood donation decline since March 2020, and a 62 percent drop in college and high school blood drives during the pandemic.

And, even though donated blood always needs to be on hand for surgeries, emergencies and medical procedures; there has been an escalating demand for it due to pandemic-related stresses — increases in gun violence, drug overdoses, and car accidents.

The next blood drive in Malibu will be coordinated by UCLA Health at Malibu High School on Tuesday, May 17, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.; in the Lower Gym. All eligible donors will receive an AMC movie ticket or a Starbucks gift card. Sixteen year-olds must have parental consent to donate.

Patrick Miller, principal of Malibu High School, confirmed in an email to TMT that anyone is welcome to come to MHS to donate blood. 

“Members of the community are certainly welcome to participate in this upcoming blood drive,” he said. “Our COVID protocols have been significantly relaxed. Given the location in the gym, they are not interacting with students or staff to any great extent.”

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