Mobile blood drives usually account for more than half of Vitalant's blood supply, but due to the pandemic, it's now under 10%.By John Shumway

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – The coronavirus pandemic is taking a toll on plenty of things and that includes the blood supply in the region.

The old Central Blood Bank, now known as Vitalant, is having to go outside of the area to bring in the blood they need.

While that may sound surprising, bringing in outside blood, it’s not a new thing.

Pittsburgh has always used more than is donated locally, according to Mark Giaquinto, the man who heads up the foundation arm of Vitalant.

“What the pandemic did was just make this a lot worse,” Giaquinto said. “For example, a lot of the businesses are working from home, schools are teaching remotely, all that did was reduce the opportunities we had to do mobile blood drives and bring blood collection. Mobile drives usually accounted for about 60% Vitalant’s blood collection here in Pittsburgh, it’s now down to less than 10%.”

They are planning to bring in from outside whatever blood is needed so local medical needs can be met.

But, the issue of donors is real and it’s an age thing.

“Our blood donors are becoming patients and becoming blood-users and our young people are not replacing them at the same rate that they’re leaving the ranks as blood donors,” Giaquinto explained.

Giaquinto and Vitalant say there are ways to do blood drives virtually and in person if your business has enough space and your organization can help.

Since June 1, all blood donations are being tested for COVID-19 antibodies to identify potential convalescent plasma donors.

Once November rolls around, thanks to a donation from RK Mellon Foundation, Vitalant will donate $5 to the food bank for every blood donation.