Northern NV officials dealing with ‘unprecedented shortage of blood’
RENO, Nev. — This July, reserves of whole blood throughout United Blood Services service areas ranging from San Francisco to the west through Northern Nevada in the east, and the Oregon border south to Merced, are projected to be at least 4,700 pints below required inventory levels.
That’s the equivalent of more than 14,000 lives that could be saved — forcing United Blood Services to issue a critical public appeal urgently encouraging blood donors of all types to give blood now.
Currently, the fluctuating blood inventory level has been trending at an approximate two-day supply for patients, which is half of the ideal quantity needed to provide a safe and available blood inventory.
“It is critical that we are prepared to respond to blood needs because it is a matter of life and death,” said Mary Meeker, Interim Regional Director, Field Operations with United Blood Services. “This unprecedented shortage of blood has great potential to compromise our ability to support the transfusions that physicians need to care for, or even save the lives of, their patients.”
Hospital demand for blood has also increased significantly this year. Compared to last July, approximately 500 more pints of red blood cells are projected to be in demand from hospitals this July.
Each week, United Blood Services and its partner blood centers need at least 8,000 donors to meet the needs of patients in our community and beyond.
Less than 40% of the general population is eligible to donate blood and less than 10% of those eligible actually donate. United Blood Services and its partner blood centers provide blood to more than 100 hospitals throughout Northern Nevada, Northern and Central California, the San Francisco Bay Area and around the world as needed.
Out-of-state resources to meet local patient blood needs have also been exhausted, since blood centers across the country are still recovering from the widespread decline in donations.
Summer is typically a challenging time to collect blood due to many reasons including: high school and colleges — where many blood drives are hosted — are on summer break, regular blood donors are on vacations, and deferrals due to travel. This summer has been especially impacted by the effects of the Zika virus on several regions throughout the world.
To schedule a donation appointment, please visit bloodhero.com or call 800-696-4484.
This article was provided by United Blood Services, Northern Nevada’s nonprofit blood provider that serves patients at 20 hospitals in the area. Visit unitedbloodservices.org to learn more.
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Public Health Officer Kellermann said even though he expects the tier system to be replaced in June, “masking and physical distancing will still be encouraged.”