Critical shortage: Local blood bank calls on donors to help patients now
Vitalant, formerly LifeSource, the nonprofit blood bank serving the Chicago area, has declared a critical shortage of blood as blood providers nationwide have less than a two days' supply of necessary blood types.
For Vitalant, the busy holiday season resulted in over 21,000 fewer blood donations than expected. Due to the critical shortage, donors are strongly encouraged to give blood as soon as possible by visiting any of Vitalant's 17 donor centers located throughout the city and suburbs. While walk-ins are always accepted, appointments can be scheduled by calling (877) 258-4825 (877-25-VITAL) or going online to vitalant.org.
"We strive to maintain a 4-day supply of blood just to provide what patients need, and currently we're at less than half that for certain blood types," said Dr. Ralph Vassallo, chief medical officer at Vitalant. "Blood on the shelf helps patients every day -- for traumas, cancer treatments and critical transfusions -- and enables us to be ready if disaster strikes."
Currently, all blood types and components are in short supply, with a special need for platelets and type O blood donations.
Platelets have a very short shelf life -- only five days. Type O-negative blood is the universal blood type that can help stabilize all patients. Nationally, Vitalant needs to collect more than 35,000 blood products per week to meet patient needs. In the Chicago area, we need to collect 3,500 blood products per week to meet patient needs.
Every two seconds, someone needs blood. And even with new donations coming in daily, the demand can quickly outpace supply. Patients depend on the ongoing generosity of volunteer blood donors for the blood transfusions they need.
Who's at risk? Everyone from accident victims to newborns to seniors who may need:
• Red blood cells for trauma, surgery, emergencies
• Platelets and red blood cells to fight chronic disease -- patients with cancer, hemophilia and sickle cell disease
• Plasma to stop the bleeding -- burn patients and those with clotting disorders
Vitalant is the nation's second largest community blood service provider, supplying comprehensive transfusion medicine services for nearly 1,000 hospitals and health care partners for patients in need across 40 states. Vitalant inspires local communities to serve the needs of others and transform lives through the selfless act of donating blood. Every day, almost 5,000 blood donations are needed to meet the needs of people throughout the country, and Vitalant's 800,000 donors supply 1.8 million donations a year. In addition to blood products, Vitalant offers customers transfusion services, medical consulting, quality guidance, ongoing education, research and more.
For more information and to schedule a donation, visit vitalant.org or call (877) 258-4825 (877-25-VITAL). Join the conversation about impacting the lives of others on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.