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Denver man with rare disease is asking people to donate blood during the stay-at-home order

Donations badly needed as blood supplies dwindle nationwide
Posted at 10:25 PM, Mar 30, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-31 00:25:27-04

DENVER -- Alex Biagi, 39, has a rare autoimmune neuromuscular disease called Chronic Inflammatory Demyelinating Polyneuropathy. One in 100,000 people are affected by it.

"For me it affects my arms, my hands and my legs," BIagi explained. "I don’t have use of my left hand. It’s mostly paralyzed. I can only wiggle a couple of fingers."

Plasma is a major component of his infusions that are administered at home twice a week.

"It keeps me stable," BIagi said. "If I go off it I might see some declines. For some people it’s life or death," Biagi said.

Despite Colorado's stay-at-home order, blood donation operations are considered an “essential health care activity.”

"We were in need of blood before the pandemic hit," said Dr. Stephen Cobb with Centura Health. "With this crisis we need it more than ever."

Blood is used for a lot more than trauma and surgeries. Biagi's situation is a perfect example.

"There are many blood products that we use in medicine," Dr. Cobb said. "Many people, like Alex, rely on it."

In just the past few weeks, the COVID-19 outbreak forced the cancellation of up to 35% of blood drives in Colorado alone.

Brooke Way with Vitalant, a nonprofit organization that collects blood from volunteer donors and provides blood, blood products and services across the United States, said indoor blood drives are still happening.

"We are strongly encouraging donors to make appointments to donate blood so we can optimize the experience for donors and ensure a consistent supply of blood." Way explained. "Vitalant is grateful for the outpouring of community support."

Viewers have been calling and emailing Denver7 saying that appointments keep filling up. Way asks for people's patience.

"We continue to experience a high volume of inquiries and are working on opening up additional donation opportunities to make up for continued blood drive cancellations while accommodating social distancing guidelines," Way said.

As appointments fill, people are asked to consider scheduling further out by calling (303) 363-2300 or visiting vitalant.org.