Vitalant puts out a call for Phoenix-area donors to address critical blood shortage

Jun 14, 2022, 2:24 PM
(Facebook Photo/Vitalant)...
(Facebook Photo/Vitalant)
(Facebook Photo/Vitalant)

PHOENIX – With supplies low and hundreds of appointments across metro Phoenix unfilled, Vitalant put out a call Tuesday for donors to address a critical blood shortage.

“We’re asking people, please, it’s imperative that they donate blood as soon as possible to ensure that we do not have to delay patient care due to a blood shortage,” Sue Thew, spokeswoman for Vitalant in Arizona, told KTAR News 92.3 FM.

The announcement coincides with World Blood Donor Day, an annual event to raise awareness about the importance of donating blood.

“Our current inventories combined with a forecast of decreased blood donations the closer we get to the Independence holiday weekend has forced us to make sure that we’ve got the word out to the public that blood donors are critically needed,” Thew said.

Vitalant, formerly United Blood Services, said its year-over-year number of new donors is down 12%. The nation’s largest independent, nonprofit blood services provider also collected about 13,000 fewer donations in April and May of this year than it did a year ago.

All types are needed, but Thew said the supply of Type O is especially low, at 50% below required levels.

“Every single day it takes about 600 blood donors to maintain Arizona’s blood supply,” she said.

Donations typically decline during the summer months, but other factors are at play.

“We are still experiencing about a 20% decline in the number of blood drives that we’re seeing and that’s because of virtual workforces impacted by COVID-19,” Thew said. “We still have not come back to normal levels for prior to the pandemic, but patient needs continue to maintain a steady pace.”

Thew said it takes 24-48 hours for donated blood to be available for hospitals, so it’s important to have enough supplies on the shelves.

“If you’ve waited until somebody you love is lying in a hospital bed needing a transfusion, you waited too long,” she said. “The blood won’t be there to help them.”

Vitalant has donation centers in Chandler, Glendale, Goodyear, Mesa, Phoenix, Scottsdale and Tempe. Donors can visit the organization’s website or call 877-25-VITAL (258-4825) to make an appointment.

Vitalant donors who give blood this summer will automatically be entered into a drawing for a 2022 Volkswagen Taos S.

KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Colton Krolak contributed to this report.

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Vitalant puts out a call for Phoenix-area donors to address critical blood shortage