Blood shortage concerns local blood centers

Blood shortage concerns local blood centers

Spokane’s blood center is among those across the country being impacted by severe drops in donation during the winter months. These drops have been attributed to the challenges of cold and flu season, increased travel, as well as frigid weather in certain parts of the country.

Vitalant says currently, there is a critical need for platelets and type O blood donations; however, all blood types are needed. In emergency situations, when a patient’s blood type isn’t known, doctors reach for type O blood first until the patient can be stabilized. Platelets have a very short shelf life, only 5 days. Locally, Vitalant needs to collect 200 donations of all types each day to replenish the supply and meet the needs of area patients.

Vitalant strives to maintain a 4-day supply of type O blood; currently we’re at less than half that amount for our nationwide supply. Additionally, blood donations collected in late December and early January were down 47 percent compared to the first two weeks of December making it challenging to maintain an adequate blood supply.

Donors are strongly encouraged to give blood in the coming days to immediately rebuild the community blood supply. To schedule an appointment to give blood, go to or call 877-258-4825. Appointments are encouraged, however walk-in donors are welcome.

“We typically see a drop in donations around this time of year because people are not only recovering from the holidays, many are also suffering from the flu and other illnesses,” said Jennifer Hawkins, Senior Director of Donor Recruitment, Marketing and Communications for Vitalant’s North Division. “Add frigid weather to the mix and it makes it extremely difficult to maintain an adequate blood supply for patients who need it.”

January is National Blood Donor Month, a critical time for new donors to step up and make blood donation a life-transforming habit.

Volunteer blood donors must be at least 16 years old, weigh at least 110 pounds and be in general good health. Additional height/weight requirements apply to donors 22 and younger, and donors who are 16 and 17 must have signed permission from a parent or guardian.

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