Downturn in blood donations concerns state hospitals - Albuquerque Journal

Downturn in blood donations concerns state hospitals

Copyright © 2022 Albuquerque Journal

Blood donations are down 25% in New Mexico, causing a historic low in blood supplies, according to Vitalant, a nonprofit organization that collects blood from volunteer donors across the United States.

“When we don’t get these blood donations in, we can’t supply hospitals,” said Evelyn Rosado, communications manager for Vitalant in New Mexico. “Doctors have to make decisions on if they are going to do that surgery they have had scheduled for two months or put those on the back burner so that they can have that blood for emergencies.”

Vitalant services 900 hospitals across 28 states. The donation shortages facing New Mexico are a problem in the rest of the country as well, due in part to the swiftly-spreading omicron variant of COVID-19 forcing the cancellation of community blood drives and decreasing the pool of healthy and available donors.

“COVID is a big part of it,” Rosado said. “But there was also a bit of a downturn (in donations) during the holidays.”

She said donations of any blood type are needed, but there is a critical need for O types, the most transfused type.

Albuquerque hospitals are concerned about the decline in blood donations.

“We currently have adequate blood supplies to meet demand, however we are asking our providers to use our blood supply conservatively,” said Dr. Aaron Pritchard, medical director of blood banks for Lovelace Medical Center, Heart Hospital of New Mexico and Lovelace Women’s Hospital.

Mark Rudi, media relations manager for University of New Mexico Health Sciences, said that like many hospitals around the state and the country, UNM Hospital is facing a blood supply shortage.

“As the state’s only Level 1 Trauma Center, blood is critical in treating many of our patients and in saving lives,” Rudi said. “UNM Health encourages New Mexicans to help our team and community by donating blood.”

Vitalant is offering a special incentive to give blood. During January, which is National Blood Donor Month, people donating blood with Vitalant anywhere in the country will be entered into the $5,000 Big Game Giveaway to win one of four $5,000 prepaid gift cards redeemable by email.

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