Hospitals across Arizona are asking blood donors to roll up their sleeves as Vitalant’s supply has been depleted by nearly 50% since the start of summer, creating an emergency shortage across the country.
As the Labor Day holiday weekend approaches, when fewer donors are typically available, the nonprofit blood services provider to about 900 hospitals nationwide, urges all eligible donors to schedule an appointment now for the coming days and weeks.
“Hospitals need people to donate during these critical weeks,” said Vitalant Chief Medical and Scientific Officer Dr. Ralph Vassallo. “Patient blood needs don’t conform to a predictable schedule. Several patients may experience emergencies, while a planned surgery could suddenly require dozens of units of blood for one patient. Hospitals must have blood available to take care of everyone.”
The emergency shortage is acute for type O, which is the most frequently transfused blood type. In recent days, O-positive blood has frequently fallen to just one-day’s supply. Appointments for all blood types are needed to achieve a sufficient four-day supply of all blood types.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently changed eligibility requirements; previously, donors were unable to donate if they had traveled to France, Ireland or the United Kingdom due to the risk of variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD), also known as mad cow disease. Now, these donors are eligible to donate with Vitalant, assuming they meet all other eligibility criteria.
“We are eager to welcome the tens of thousands of donors who have recently become eligible to give blood due to the FDA’s updated guidance,” said Cliff Numark, Vitalant senior vice president. “We also encourage everyone who at one time may have been told they couldn’t give blood to take another look at current eligibility requirements, as this is just one of several updates over the past few years.”
To check eligibility criteria, make an appointment and help save lives, please visit vitalant.org, download and use the Vitalant app or call 877-25-VITAL (877-258-4825). Those who come to give through Aug. 31 will receive a $6 prepaid gift card to spend on a gallon of gas or whatever they wish, redeemable by email, in addition to being automatically entered to win big, one of five, $3,000 prepaid gift cards*.