Colorado Blood Centers Ask Donors to Help Solve Supply Emergency

One of Colorado’s biggest blood collectors saw its supply drop by half this summer, compounding a pandemic-induced shortfall.

Brooke Way, communications manager for Vitalant Blood Centers in Colorado, said there has been a shortage for some time now as COVID-19 outbreaks canceled blood drives, but it’s become an “emergency” this summer with the usual increase in accidents in the summer and as hospitals catch up. on delayed surgeries.

“The donations that people make are going to hospitals faster than they are coming in,” she said.

About 141,000 people have donated blood over the past year in the region, including Colorado, Wyoming, Montana and North Dakota. That’s down from around 155,000 in the previous 12 months, Way said.

All blood types are required, but type O blood is the rarest. Anyone can safely receive a transfusion from an O-negative donor, so it is especially important to have on hand for emergencies when the patient’s blood type may be unknown. O-positive blood doesn’t work for everyone, but it’s the most common blood type.

The American Red Cross also encouraged people of color to donate. People are not required to receive blood from a donor of the same ethnic background, but certain blood types are more common in certain racial groups. Black donors are especially needed because people of African descent are more likely to have rare blood types not found in people whose ancestors came from elsewhere.

In August, the US Department of Health and Human Services announced a campaign to encourage eligible people to donate blood or plasma (the liquid part of blood, which also contains antibodies). The ministry has estimated that a person needs whole blood or blood products approximately every two seconds due to an emergency, surgery, cancer treatment, anemia or a blood disorder.

Nationally, the blood supply hit an all-time low in January, at the height of the winter surge of COVID-19, before partially rebounding. The supply tends to drop in the summer, during holidays, and during disruptive weather events, as fewer people restock it.

Lily Griego, area director including Colorado for HHS, said the department is trying to encourage people who can donate to donate regularly.

“Having a steady supply of blood and plasma is crucial to the health of our nation and it saves lives,” she said in a statement.

Some people who were previously excluded from donating blood may be eligible again.

In June, the US Food and Drug Administration lifted its rules banning blood donations from people who had spent a long time in the UK between 1980 and 1996, lived in France or Ireland between 1980 and 2001, or received a blood transfusion. in one of these countries. three countries.


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