Nationwide blood shortage prompts pleas for donations

Health

LOUISVILLE, KY – JULY 07: A phlebotomist tends to a blood donor at the KFC YUM! Center during the Starts, Stripes, and Pints blood drive event on July 7, 2021 in Louisville, Kentucky. Rising numbers of organ transplants, trauma cases, and elective surgeries postponed by the COVID-19 pandemic have caused an influx in the need for blood products. The American Red Cross is holding this three day blood drive while offering incentives for donations, including Red Cross apparel, amusement park tickets, and free parking. (Photo by Jon Cherry/Getty Images)

(NewsNation) — One of the largest blood suppliers in the U.S. is facing an emergency shortage as its supply has dropped by nearly 50%.

Vitalant, a nonprofit organization based out Phoenix, Arizona, that provides to about 900 hospitals nationwide said they are encouraging eligible donors to schedule an appointment as soon as possible ahead of the Labor Day holiday.

The organization is particularly interested in blood type O, a universal type that can be donated to all others.

“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.”

BASIC ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS for donation
  • Must be at least 16 years old
  • Weight at least 110 pounds
  • Be in good overall health
  • Bring some form of identification
  • Eat within two hours ahead of donation

Donors are strongly encouraged to eat within two hours of donation, drink plenty of non-alcoholic liquids and wait eight weeks before donating again.

Donors are not tested for an active COVID-19 infection and Vitalant asks that anyone not feeling well not enter a facility.

For additional eligibility requirements and more information on how to donate, click here.

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