Nonprofit blood services provider Vitalant is alerting the public today – World Blood Donor Day – to help reverse a critical blood shortage by making an appointment to give in the coming days and weeks. Donors of all blood types are needed.
With the number of new donors down sharply by 12% year over year, new donors and those that haven’t given in a while are especially needed. Thousands of appointments over the next few weeks remain unfilled across the 28 states Vitalant serves. There is a critical need for donors with the most transfused blood type O, which has recently dipped to about half of the desired four-day supply, and platelet donors, whose donations must be used within a week of donation.
“Every time you donate you help ensure a patient’s lifesaving treatment doesn’t have to be put on hold,” said Vitalant Chief Medical and Scientific Officer Dr. Ralph Vassallo. “When patient needs consistently outpace donors scheduling appointments, chances are higher a leukemia patient won’t be able to get their regular transfusion, or a transplant recipient will have their surgery delayed.”
In April and May, Vitalant collected about 13,000 fewer blood donations compared to the year prior. If AAA Memorial Day travel forecasts were any indication, rebounding to 92% of pre-pandemic levels, as schools let out for the summer, the number of available donors could drop even lower in the coming weeks.
“When there’s a high-profile emergency, people will drop what they’re doing to donate,” said Cliff Numark, Vitalant senior vice president. “But there are many reasons patients need transfusions – which don’t grab news headlines. Certainly, it’s the blood already on the shelves that helps patients when tragedy strikes – but an adequate supply also has to be ready to provide for the individual needs of patients that arise every day, the cancer treatment, the accident victim, the transplant patient. Making an appointment to donate tomorrow or next week, will help ensure those needs can be met.”
In addition to helping patients, new blood donors can learn their preliminary blood type during their first visit.* Other added benefits of donating blood are a mini-physical and full panel of tests each donor receives. The mini-physical check of pulse, blood pressure, hemoglobin and cholesterol can be tracked with each visit in the donor’s secure and confidential online account. Through June 17, Vitalant is testing all donations for COVID-19 antibodies to produce plasma that could help COVID-19 patients with weakened immune systems.
Appointments are encouraged. Please visit vitalant.org, download and use the Vitalant app** or call 877-25-VITAL (877-258-4825) to secure your spot to save lives.