Vitalant sees 50 percent drop in blood supplies

Published: Aug. 22, 2022 at 5:38 PM CDT
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CASPER, Wyo. (Wyoming News Now) - In the summer, blood donations typically decrease, but this year it has led to what Vitalant calls a blood emergency.

Since the start of summer, Vitalant’s blood supply has decreased by 50%. They say the shortage is the most impacting type O blood, the most transfused blood type. O-positive blood has fallen to a one-day supply, other blood types have below a two-day supply.

“In all of my years at Vitalant, I have not heard us use the word emergency. The blood supply was rough all summer long, we’ve been in a critical status for most of the summer, and we saw people come in and donate we’re very thankful for that, but we just still not seeing those consistent donations on a regular basis that we need,” said Vitalant Communications Manager Tori Robbins.

Blood donations are mostly used for people with medical conditions that require them to receive frequent blood transfusions.

“Hospitals need people to donate during these critical weeks. Patient blood needs don’t conform 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,” said Vitalant Chief Medical and Scientific Officer Dr. Ralph Vassallo.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently changed eligibility requirements; previously, donors were 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, these donors are eligible to donate with Vitalant, if they meet all other eligibility criteria.

“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 Cliff Numark, Vitalant senior vice president. “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.”

Vitalant has locations across Wyoming. They also host blood drives in cities where they don’t have donation centers. To find the nearest location, or the next blood drive near you click here.

To learn more about donor eligibility requirements, call Vitalant at 877-258-4825 or visit their website. Through August, Vitalant says they will be giving $6 prepaid gift cards to donors, donors will be automatically entered to win one of five $3,000 prepaid gift cards as well.