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Arizona blood supplies at 17-month low

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GLENDALE — A Glendale location is one of many sites where West Valley residents can help reduce the risks of an ongoing health concern by giving blood.

And that giving is needed, as blood and platelet supplies are at the lowest level since near the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a news release sent out Monday by nonprofit blood provider Vitalant.

The release calls the shortage “critical,” and urges anyone eligible and capable to make an appointment to donate blood.

Vitalant’s Glendale donor center is at 18583 N. 59th Ave., No. 113, on the southeast corner of North 59th Avenue and Union Hills Boulevard.

One strain on blood supplies is patients are now scheduling surgeries postponed during the height of the pandemic, increasing blood use by approximately 5% over “normal” levels, the release states. On Apri1 1, Arizona Gov. Doug  Ducey lifted the COVID-19 halt on elective surgeries that had been in place for about one year.

“Compared to the beginning of the pandemic, patient needs are stronger than we expected,” said Cliff Numark, Vitalant senior vice president. “We’re seeking about 1,000 additional volunteer donors to make and keep an appointment each week for the foreseeable future to ensure Vitalant can help trauma victims, cancer patients and critical surgeries.”

Also, Arizona blood drives are often hosted by schools, senior centers or government agencies or companies with large facilities. Many of those facilities have been closed to the public or have many employees working from home, so this has reduced the amount of blood drive events by about 33% during the past 19 months.

Vitalant also said no-show rates at donor centers and blood drives are about 30%. The nonprofit said it needs to add 1,000 additional donors each week in Arizona to ensure supply needs are met.

Supplies of Type O blood, the most transfused blood type that vital to helping patients in emergencies, has dwindled to less than a two-day supply. That’s the lowest amount on hand since May 2020.

Vehicle collisions and other wrecks continue to keep the need high for Arizona’s hospital blood supply. Despite travel diminishing slightly during 2020 as a result of the pandemic, injuries and the potentially fatal nature of Arizona vehicle wrecks are still at high levels. The number of wrecks and Arizonans injured dropped during 2020, but there were still more than 41,000 injuries in those wrecks, according to the Arizona Department of Transportation.

Also, the number of Arizona road fatalities went up 8% to 1,057 in 2020, despite reduced amount of travel, according to ADOT.

Vitalant says it provides blood to about 900 hospitals nationwide, including 62 in Arizona.

The nonprofit also has a critical donation shortage of platelet. which are tiny cells that help blood clot. Those must be transfused within about a week of donation, and about 50% of platelets are given to cancer patients undergoing treatment. 

Vitalant reminds Arizonans there is no recommended waiting period to donate blood after receiving a flu shot or COVID-19 vaccine dose. Those who receive an FDA-authorized COVID-19 vaccine or seasonal flu vaccine can give blood immediately if other eligibility requirements are met.

Donors must feel well the day of their donation. Vitalant says it follows strict protocols to ensure the safety of donors, patients, and staff, including social distancing and other precautions.

Per the latest CDC guidance, masks are required for all donors, staff, volunteers and guests at Vitalant blood drives and facilities regardless of vaccination status.

In addition to the Glendale location, Vitalant has the facilities shown below. An Internet search for blood drives might show additional one-time sites.

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