Blood donation centers across the US are calling for donors of all blood types, but especially type O.
In the past twelve months, Vitalant counted a 7% decrease in blood donations — that means eleven thousand fewer people donated.
Katie Nielsen, the Donor Recruitment Manager for Vitalant, explained, “I can tell you that this is the lowest our blood inventory has been in the in the last two years, which is really significant. We really strive to have at least a four day supply of blood on hand for our hospitals, and right now we're less than a two day supply.”
Vitalant says it takes several days to draw, process, test and prepare each donation before the blood is sent to a local hospital.
“So right now, we have been able, thank goodness, to meet our local hospital needs, but we just want to make sure that people come on out and give because we don't want, you know, us to not be able to cover it,” said Nielsen.
They say fewer people are donating because of the pandemic, many donors are aging out and younger people are not donating as often.
The American Red Cross is struggling to maintain blood supply as well — calling the supply at crisis levels, and it is affecting hospitals.
The Red Cross said in a press release, “Dangerously low blood supply levels…[are] forcing doctors to make difficult decisions about who receives blood transfusions, and who will need to wait…”
They say that they had about a ten percent decline in blood donations because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Factors include fewer people donating, staffing limitations and a sixty-two per cent drop in blood drives at schools and colleges.
“We're not currently at full staffing levels, so we're having some staffing issues, and we finally have hired some new people, but they're in training and that has impacted the blood supply,” Nielsen said of Vitalant.
Because of the staffing shortage, Vitalant is not able to host as many blood drives as they would like.
The average donor only gives once per year. Vitalant says if people commit to donating at least twice a year, it could prevent future shortages.