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Health

Blood donation center opens in Cedar Park to serve growing area needs

A sign reads "Blood Drive Today" at a shady queue for blood donations outside of the state Capitol
Gabriel C. Pérez
/
KUT
We Are Blood opened a new donation center in Cedar Park on Wednesday. The nonprofit also organizes mobile blood drives, like one at the state Capitol last month.

We Are Blood, the nonprofit that manages local blood supply, has opened a new donation center in Cedar Park. The new location will allow 1,000 additional donation appointments per month and is expected to help the organization meet the growing demand for blood in the 10 Central Texas counties it serves.

The nonprofit has three other donation centers — in South Austin, Round Rock and North Lamar. It also operates five mobile blood donation buses. The addition of the Cedar Park location is expected to increase red blood cell donations by about 15%.

Nick Canedo, We Are Blood's vice president of community engagement, said the additional facility was necessary to help the organization play catch up with the area’s growing needs.

“In the last five years, we’ve seen a 40% growth in the need for platelets and 30% growth in the need for red cells,” he said. “And when that happens in such a short period of time, it means that we’re basically at capacity — meaning that we don’t have the ability to collect even more to meet the growth.”

Platelets help patients who have significant burns, are undergoing cancer treatment or have traumatic injuries. Donating them requires special machines only available in donor centers.

We Are Blood provides donated blood to more than 40 medical facilities across 10 Central Texas counties — including Travis, Hays and Williamson. Canedo said that while the nonprofit would like to put facilities in more counties, it can be expensive.

The Cedar Park facility, which is located in a shopping complex, took $700,000 to set up. It will take about $850,000 per year to operate. Canedo said the two largest components of that annual cost are personnel and clinical supplies like blood bags and personal protective equipment.

While the next location will probably be in the Southeast part of Central Texas, Canedo said the organization doesn’t want to grow its footprint too fast, especially when its mobile blood drives have the flexibility to operate in all the counties. We Are Blood holds about 100 mobile blood drives every month.

Canedo said Cedar Park was selected as the new site more than two years ago because of its repeated success with mobile blood drives hosted with area businesses, churches, communities and schools.

“That’s what really made us feel like the community would really take advantage of a donor center where we would have regular hours and appointments available,” he said.

The new location adds 800 appointments for whole blood donation and 200 appointments for platelet donation per month. With the community’s help, Canedo thinks the new facility will help serve the Central Texas region through 2024 or 2025.

A formal ribbon cutting was held Wednesday at the facility on North Bell Boulevard. Donation appointments start Thursday. The site is open Monday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

If you are at least 17 years old and meet other eligibility criteria, you can schedule an appointment to donate at any We Are Blood location.

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