Winter weather and illness causing blood supply shortage
RAPID CITY, S.D. — Vitalant, formerly known as United Blood Services, says that it’s experiencing a nationwide blood shortage.
The blood service provider announced last week that blood donations in December and early January were down 47 percent. Winter weather and flu season are believed to be contributing factors to the shortage.
According to Charlie Propernick, the senior director of donor recruitment at Vitalant, “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. Add bad weather to the mix and it makes it extremely difficult to maintain an adequate blood supply for patients who need it.”
While all blood types are needed, Type O donations are especially in short supply. Type O is the only blood type that can be matched with all other blood types. It’s used first in trauma situations and emergencies when the patient’s blood type is not known, as it won’t cause an immune rejection.
Only 1 in 15 people, or 6.6 percent of the population, have Type O red blood cells. There’s also a critical need for platelets, which have a short shelf life of 5 days, according to Vitalant.
Volunteers, including new donors, are urged to give blood during this critical time.
Locally, Vitalant says it needs to collect more than 3,000 donations of all types per week to meet the needs of area patients and replenish the blood supply.
Community members that would like to give blood can visit Vitalant’s donation center at 2209 W. Omaha St. The center is open seven days a week and walk-ins are welcome.
If you’d prefer to make an appointment, go to vitalant.org or call 605-646-2625.