(VITALANT NEWS RELEASE) – Vitalant, formerly Lifeblood, the nonprofit blood bank serving the local community in the greater Memphis 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 donations than expected. Due to the critical shortage, donors are strongly encouraged to give blood as soon as possible 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 Memphis area, we need to collect 300 blood products per day to meet local 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
“To all the blood donors out there—you have gone above and beyond to save my son’s life. Without blood transfusions I would have lost my little boy,” said Nathan’s mom, April.
Nathan was born with a rare blood disorder, Gardos channel mutation, that causes his red blood cells to rapidly break apart. Every month, he relies on the generosity of strangers to donate lifesaving blood—a need that will most likely continue the rest of his life.
In fact, Nathan will receive his 79th blood transfusion on Jan. 9. Nathan and countless other children and adults with rare blood disorders and chronic disease need donated blood regularly.