As severe winter storms continue to traverse the country, and cold and flu season is in full swing, the one-two punch is hitting blood centers hard and drastically impacting community blood supplies. Severe weather can also lead to more accidents and an increased need for blood.
Currently, there’s a critical need for platelets and type O blood donations; however, all blood types are needed. In emergency situations, when a patient’s blood type isn’t known, doctors reach for type O blood first until the patient can be stabilized. Platelets have a very short shelf life—only 5 days. Locally, Vitalant needs to collect 500 donations of all types per day to replenish the supply and meet the needs of area patients.
Vitalant strives to maintain a 4-day supply of type O blood; currently we’re at less than half that amount for our nationwide supply. Additionally, blood donations collected in late December and early January were down 47 percent compared to the first two weeks of December making it challenging to maintain an adequate blood supply.
Donors are strongly encouraged to give blood in the coming days to immediately rebuild the community blood supply. To schedule an appointment to give blood, go to vitalant.org or call 877-258-4825. Walk-in donors are always welcome.
“We typically see a drop in donations around this time of year because people are not only recovering from the holidays, many are also suffering from the flu and other illnesses,” said Fred McFadden, Regional Director. “Add bad weather to the mix and it makes it extremely difficult to maintain an adequate blood supply for patients who need it.”
Volunteer blood donors must be at least 16 years old, weigh at least 110 pounds and be in general good health. Additional height/weight requirements apply to donors 22 and younger, and donors who are 16 and 17 must have signed permission from a parent or guardian.
Vitalant is the new name for Blood Centers of the Pacific and has been partnering with Bay Area hospitals to help patients since 1941.
In addition, Vitalant also coordinates over 100 mobile blood drives each month in the community making it easy and convenient for people to give. The nearest blood donor center is located at 3505 Industrial Dr., Santa Rosa. For more information and to schedule a donation, visit vitalant.org or call 877-258-4825 (877-25VITAL).