100 acts of love
Staff marked Erika Shue's 100 donation to the Stanford Blood Center. Photo courtesy Erika Shue

Erika Shue has made her 100th blood donation at the Stanford Blood Center in Menlo Park. She hit the century mark with a donation on Saturday.

Shue, 33, helped organize blood drives at Half Moon Bay High School before she graduated in 2005. Over the last few years, Shue, a current El Granada resident, has remained a steady donor. Though she didn’t keep track until she began closing in on her 100th donation, she knew she was on her way to a notable milestone.

Shue has every-other-week appointments at the center and was scheduled to donate in early March when the center called to reschedule her appointment at the onset of the novel coronavirus pandemic.

“I had one week that was canceled because there were so many people who turned out to donate,” Shue said.

The blood center has provided donation opportunities on the Coastside in the past, including mobile centers at the Bike Works and the Coastal Repertory Theatre in Half Moon Bay. Shue used to volunteer at the center’s Palo Alto location.

Blood center employees and donors are labeled as essential under the county shelter-in-place orders, and appointments and walk-ins are still available. According to the center’s website, donating blood is fairly low risk in terms of contracting COVID-19. Donors must be reasonably healthy and symptom-free for any illness weeks prior to having their blood drawn.

Although Shue’s donation on Saturday was unrelated to the coronavirus pandemic, the Stanford Blood Center needs donors so doctors have enough blood to treat those affected by the pandemic. Using convalescent plasma donations from donors who have tested positive and recovered from COVID-19, doctors are investigating whether the antibodies from the donors could help those with the disease.

“These antibodies, when transfused into a patient ill with COVID-19, may be effective against the infection and help improve the patient’s clinical outcome,” Dr. Suchi Pandey, the center’s Chief Medical Officer, said in a press release.

This specialized donation has not yet been scientifically proven, but that hasn’t stopped staff from trying at its Palo Alto location. But even for those who have not tested positive for the virus, hospitals are still very much in need of blood to treat patients.

“Despite the shelter-in-place, individuals will continue to need blood,” blood center spokesman Ross Coyle said in a press release. “We want to reassure the public that blood donation is a safe process, and there is no increased risk of contracting COVID-19 from donating blood. If you’re healthy and eligible, we ask that you please consider donating.”

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