ImpactLife in QC issues urgent appeal for more blood donors

Local News

ImpactLife is joining blood providers across the United States in issuing an urgent appeal for additional donors as blood drive and appointment cancellations combine with a staffing shortage to cause a decrease in donations.

ImpactLife currently has less than a 5-day supply of red blood cells for nearly all blood types, with type O donors especially needed as O-negative and O-positive inventories are at just a one- to two-day supply, the organization said Wednesday. Platelet and plasma donors of all types, especially type AB, are also greatly needed.

“We have a critical and urgent need for all donors of all blood types and donation procedures,” said Amanda Hess, director of donor and public relations. “We work to prevent blood shortages by keeping five or more days supply in our blood inventory hubs at all times. This allows us to consistently refill hospital shelves and ensure we have enough for their daily blood utilization needs.”

Appointments are required for donation. To schedule, call (800) 747-5401 or schedule online at www.bloodcenter.org, or via the ImpactLife mobile app (www.bloodcenter.org/app).

Across ImpactLife’s entire service region (map), they seek an average of 3,600 units every week, and lately, they’ve been collecting closer to 3,200 units per week, public relations manager Kirby Winn said Wednesday.

“When we are able to consistently collect 3,600 per week, we have a 5- to 7-day (or greater) supply of all of blood types and this enables us to consistently fill not only hospital inventories, but also our distribution hubs,” he said. “At the current rate of collection, we are still meeting patient needs, but we are more limited in what we can do in terms of product rotations and shipping resources to other regions in need. The needs of our local service hospitals always come first.

“We are now at less than a five-day supply for all types, and most critically, at a one- to two-day supply for the O-negative and O-positive blood types, which are always in higher demand because the red blood cells are ‘universal’ and can go to patients of all blood types,” Winn said by e-mail. “So while we need donors of all blood types, the universal types are the area of greatest need (O-negative and O-positive red blood cells and type AB plasma).”

Similar issues are affecting blood providers nationwide, with the industry’s leading national organizations issuing a joint statement on the U.S. blood supply. According to a joint statement from America’s Blood Centers, American Red Cross, and AABB (full text available here):

The blood supply in the United States is dangerously low – an uncommon occurrence for this time of year. It is safe to donate blood and all eligible individuals – including those who have received a COVID-19 vaccine – are encouraged to make an appointment to donate blood or platelets now to ensure that blood products will be available for all patients when needed.

With the recent COVID-19 case surge and the busy back-to-school period, some blood collection organizations are experiencing an abnormal decline in donor turnout; others are experiencing blood drive cancellations at schools and businesses limiting the number of individuals allowed onsite as a precautionary pandemic practice. These collection challenges have disrupted the nation’s blood supply, resulting in concerningly low inventories of life-saving blood products across the country for patients in need.

With a high number of openings across its entire service region, the blood center is being impacted by staffing issues related to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Open positions in phlebotomy (collection specialists) and drivers are especially high at this time. ImpactLife provides extensive training in phlebotomy and encourages applicants of all backgrounds to apply at www.bloodcenter.org/apply.

With appreciation for those who support the blood supply, ImpactLife is providing everyone who registers to give blood at its donor centers and mobile blood drives a voucher to redeem for an ImpactLife retro T-shirt or gift card. (Learn more at www.bloodcenter.org/promotions.)  

Blood donations are often used to help treat patients with cancer, victims of trauma and patients undergoing major surgeries. All persons age 17 and up (or 16, with a signed parental permission form) who weigh at least 110 lbs. and are in general good health meet the basic eligibility requirements for blood donation. For more information, call ImpactLife at (800) 747-5401, visit www.bloodcenter.org., or download the IMPACT mobile app at www.bloodcenter.org/app.

ImpactLife is a nonprofit community organization providing blood services to 126 hospitals in Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, and Wisconsin, as well as resource sharing partners across the country. Services extend from southcentral Wisconsin to St. Louis, Missouri and from Danville, Illinois to Chariton, Iowa. (See a map of the ImpactLife service region.)

ImpactLife operates 20 donor centers and holds approximately 5000 mobile blood drives annually to provide blood components needed for patient transfusions at hospitals throughout our region.

ImpactLife (formerly Mississippi Valley Regional Blood Center in the QC area) recently announced its new name. For more information on the name change, see www.bloodcenter.org/impactlife. For more information, see www.bloodcenter.org and check out @impactlifeblood on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and Snapchat.

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