COVID-19 omicron cases, other factors deplete blood supply, donors needed

·2 min read

A national blood shortage is further stressing the nation’s fragile healthcare system, according to a news release from Vitalant.

Vitalant, which services about 900 hospitals across 28 states, including the Lubbock and West Texas regions, is experiencing a historic, two-year low blood supply. The fast-spreading omicron variant is the latest COVID-19 complication forcing additional community blood drives to cancel and lessening the number of healthy and available donors.

All eligible donors, especially those with the most transfused blood type O, which is currently at less than half of the desired four-day supply, are critically needed to make an appointment now to give in the days and weeks ahead.

As a special thank you, during January, National Blood Donor Month, all those who give with Vitalant any time this month will be entered into the $5,000 Big Game Giveaway to win one of four, $5,000 prepaid gift cards redeemable by email.

Blood donor turnout has reached the lowest levels of the year as many delayed giving amid a return to the workplace and in-person learning, as well as a recent surge in COVID-19 cases.
Blood donor turnout has reached the lowest levels of the year as many delayed giving amid a return to the workplace and in-person learning, as well as a recent surge in COVID-19 cases.

“It’s important for people to remember that they can give blood immediately after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine if you’re healthy and well,” said Vitalant Chief Medical Officer Dr. Ralph Vassallo, in the news release. “To ensure patient care isn’t jeopardized, we need people to schedule an appointment today. Even if the appointment is several weeks from now, setting and keeping it will help replenish what’s needed for both routine treatments and emergencies.”

Blood donations at Vitalant fell short of the need by more than 4,500 donations in December and the trend has continued into January. In addition to the effects of the omicron variant, severe winter weather in parts of the U.S. has further impacted blood drives, resulting in uncollected donations, the release states.

“Now is the time when new blood donors, those that haven’t given in a while and regular donors are all needed to step up and help address this critical healthcare issue,” said Cliff Numark, Vitalant senior vice president. “Only about 3% of the population donates blood, but most people are eligible. If more people start donating, shortages could be prevented.”

This shortage is not unique to Vitalant. Associations representing all blood services organizations in the U.S. warned the nation’s blood supply is at a dangerously low level and this trend must reverse to prevent hospitals from having to postpone potential lifesaving treatments.

To make an appointment or for more information, visit vitalant.org or call 877-25-VITAL. Donors must feel well on the day of their donation. Like the COVID-19 vaccine, there’s no waiting period to donate for those who receive a seasonal flu vaccine if all other eligibility requirements are met.

This article originally appeared on Lubbock Avalanche-Journal: Blood donors needed in Lubbock as COVID omicron cases deplete supply

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