Vitalant declares “Blood Emergency” after drop in supply

RAPID CITY, S.D. — Vitalant’s blood supply has dropped nearly 50% since the start of summer, creating an emergency shortage in the Black Hills and across the country.

The blood services provider is urging all eligible donors to schedule an appointment for the coming days and weeks as the approaching Labor Day holiday weekend sees fewer donors.

“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 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.”

The emergency shortage may have an affect with type O blood as it is the most frequently transfused blood type, and O-positive blood has fallen frequently in just one day’s supply.

The Food and Drug Administration recently changed eligibility requirements where donors were previously unable to donate if they had traveled to France, Ireland or the United Kingdom due to the risk of variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD), also known as mad cow disease. Now, donors are eligible to donate with Vitalant if they meet all other eligibility criteria. Appointments for all blood types are needed to achieve a sufficient four day supply of all blood types.

“We are eager to welcome the tens of thousands of donors who have recently become eligible to give blood due to the FDA’s updated guidance,” said Vitalant Senior Vice President Cliff Numark. “We also encourage everyone who at one time may have been told they couldn’t give blood to take another look at current eligibility requirements, as this is just one of several updates over the past few years.”

Anyone wanting to donate blood can make an appointment online here, through the Vitalant app or by calling 877-25-VITAL (877-258-8425). Anyone who donates through Aug. 31 will receive a $6 prepaid gift card, redeemable by email, to spend on a gallon of gas or whatever they choose, in addition to being automatically entered to win one of five $3,000 prepaid gift cards.

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