BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - The country’s largest non-profit independent blood collector, Vitalant, says there is a critical blood shortage since supplies have been significantly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Hundreds of blood drives had to be canceled due to stay-at-home orders, leading to a significant decrease in blood supply. The decrease in supply, coupled with elective medical procedures and surgeries resuming as stay-at-home orders were lifted has caused a 25% increase in the need for blood over the last several weeks, officials with Vitalant say.
Vitalant says all blood types are needed, with a particularly high need for type O, A-, and B-. Platelets are also needed due to their short shelf-life of just five days.
Interested donors should visit vitalant.org or call 877-258-4825 to make an appointment.
“We strive to maintain a four-day supply of blood just to provide what patients need, and currently we’re at less than half that for certain blood types,” said Dr. Ralph Vassallo, chief medical officer at Vitalant. “It’s absolutely vital, a matter of life or death for some, to have enough blood collected and readily available on hospital shelves when patients need it.”
Vitalant says in Louisiana, they must collect 250 donations per day to patients’ transfusion needs since someone needs blood every two seconds.
Vitalant also recently launched its Because of You, Life Doesn’t Stop campaign to encourage donors to give blood or convalescent plasma. Those who have had COVID-19 and recovered have immune-boosting antibodies that can be used to help patients fighting the virus.
“The public responded when thousands of blood drives were canceled, more than 100,000 units of blood lost, at the beginning of the pandemic,” said Cliff Numark, chief of marketing. “We are in the aftermath and we need to let people know that without donating blood today, life could stop for hospital patients.”
Vitalant is adhering to strict procedures and its donation locations, including:
- Taking donors’ temperatures upon check-in (staff self-monitor their temperatures)
- Requiring face masks or cloth-based face coverings (donors and staff)
- Disinfecting donor-touched and other high-touch areas often and after every donation
- Ensuring social distancing to keep donors and staff safe.
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