Blood partnership co-founded by local blood center saves lives

SAN ANTONIO – When a tragedy strikes, caused by man or an act of God, the need for blood skyrockets.

With the country facing a severe shortage, blood centers across the country have decided to come together to help when the need for blood arises.

The Blood Emergency Readiness Corps or BERC program was launched in September. Seven blood centers, including the South Texas Blood and Tissue Center, have come together to create something new: a blood-sharing partnership.

“Blood centers across the country to respond in case there are a large number of casualties, a major disaster where the blood in the region cannot meet the needs demanded at that time”, Adrienne Mendoza, vice -President of blood operations in the South said the Texas Blood and Tissue Center.

Mendoza says that in a short time their program is expanding.

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“The first seven centers were in five states. Corn now, in November, we already have 22 centers in 32 states, ”Mendoza said. Each transfusion center in part of the BERC is asked to reserve five units.

She explained that in the event of a tragedy, “nearly 100 units in total are available to be dispatched in the event of a disaster if a disaster occurs now.”

Here’s how it works: Each blood center follows a rotating schedule where they commit to collecting additional units of blood for a few weeks at a time.

BERC has already been activated three times. Most recently, in Kentucky, when a powerful tornado swept through the state, killing more than 70.

Prior to that, BERC was activated in the Michigan school shooting where four students died and several others were injured. In this case, some of the blood came from the nearby Corpus Christi blood center.

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“We got an email that morning saying, you know, BERC has been activated and we were like, ‘oh my gosh. And then of course we heard about the Michigan shooting. So it was literally overnight, ”said Ashley Ramirez, public relations for the Coastal Bend Blood Center.

The hope is that blood centers in all 50 US states and territories will join BERC.

“We don’t know how great the need can be, but the more prepared we are, the easier it is,” Mendoza said.

BERC has no impact on the local blood supply, it is blood that is set aside specifically for the program.

The South Texas Blood and Tissue Center is looking for organizations or sponsors to organize BERC blood drives in order to keep this program in place and to be successful.

Copyright 2021 by KSAT – All rights reserved.

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