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Critical blood shortage: supply ‘plummets to levels not seen since pandemic’s start’

Blood donors are urgently needed at Vitalant and they have reached a critical shortage of blood
Blood donors are urgently needed at Vitalant and they have reached a critical shortage of blood(Gillian Trudeau)
Published: Oct. 19, 2021 at 1:31 PM CDT
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LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - Vitalant, the nonprofit blood provider, says it is in a critical blood and platelet shortage. About 1,000 additional donors a week are needed to ensure patient care. Type O blood, which is the most transfused blood type and is vital to helping patients in emergencies, has plummeted to under a two-day supply; its lowest level since May 2020.

Blood donations are going out quicker than volunteer donations are coming in. As people resume routine activities, busy donors are not making enough appointments – or keeping them. Scheduling and keeping donation appointments are both critical to meeting patient needs.

“Compared to the beginning of the pandemic, patient needs are stronger than we expected,” said Cliff Numark, Vitalant senior vice president. “We’re seeking about 1,000 additional volunteer donors to make and keep an appointment each week for the foreseeable future to ensure Vitalant can help trauma victims, cancer patients, and critical surgeries.”

Vitalant is also experiencing a critical shortage of platelet donations. Platelets are tiny cells that help blood clot. They must be transfused within about a week of donation and about 50 percent of platelets are given to cancer patients undergoing treatment.

No waiting period to give after receiving a flu shot or COVID-19 vaccine

Those who receive a Food and Drug Administration authorized COVID-19 vaccine or seasonal flu vaccine can give blood immediately if other eligibility requirements are met. Donors must feel well on the day of their donation.

Appointments are encouraged, walk-ins are welcome

To learn more and schedule an appointment to donate, please visit vitalant.org or call 877-25-VITAL (877-258-4825). Vitalant follows strict protocols to ensure the safety of donors, patients, and staff, including social distancing and other precautions. To support a safe environment and most efficiently follow the latest CDC guidance, masks are required for all donors, staff, volunteers, and guests at Vitalant blood drives and facilities regardless of vaccination status.

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