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News / Health / Clark County Health

Blood donations pour in

Bloodworks Northwest collects offerings in wake of Las Vegas shooting

By Marissa Harshman, Columbian Health Reporter
Published: October 7, 2017, 6:05am
5 Photos
Julie Burrell of Bloodworks Northwest, left, chats with Vancouver resident Darcy Urdesich as she donates blood in October at the Vancouver Donor Center.
Julie Burrell of Bloodworks Northwest, left, chats with Vancouver resident Darcy Urdesich as she donates blood in October at the Vancouver Donor Center. (Amanda Cowan/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

Darcy Urdesich felt helpless after a massacre in her hometown left 58 people dead and more than 500 people injured.

Urdesich, who moved to Vancouver from Las Vegas about a year ago, had friends at the Route 91 Harvest music festival when the shooting began. Her friend’s daughter is recovering after being shot in the back.

So when Urdesich heard Bloodworks Northwest was collecting blood donations to support Las Vegas hospitals, she rolled up her sleeve and helped the best way she knew how. Urdesich was a regular blood donor in Nevada.

“It’s the only definite way I know I can make a difference,” she said.

How To Help

  • The Bloodworks Northwest Vancouver Donor Center, 9320 N.E. Vancouver Mall Drive, Suite 100, is open Tuesday through Saturday. Donors can schedule an appointment by vising the website, schedule.bloodworksnw.org, or calling 800-398-7888.

Seattle-based Bloodworks Northwest issued a plea for blood donations on Monday. The nonprofit wanted to build its supply in order to send emergency blood components, if needed, to United Blood Services in Las Vegas.

The response from communities across Washington and Oregon was immediate and significant, said John Yeager, Bloodworks Northwest senior media content strategist.

Bloodworks has about 30 blood collection sites — centers and bloodmobiles — in the two states. A typical Monday draws about 500 donor registrations across all sites. This Monday, however, 1,084 people signed up to donate blood, Yeager said.

On Tuesday, 1,287 registered to donate — nearly double the typical 700-person turnout. In total, Bloodworks had a jump of nearly 1,900 donor registrations in the first four days of the week, Yeager said.

“That’s remarkable,” he said. “We’re just really grateful for our donors.”

Yeager didn’t have specific numbers for the Vancouver Donor Center but said local staff reported a “big increase.”

While Bloodworks officials reached out to the blood banks in Vegas immediately following the shooting, they haven’t yet needed additional donations. If hospitals in Vegas don’t need the blood components, they’ll be put to good use in the Northwest, Yeager said.

“It just bolsters our supplies here,” he said.

Blood donations often dwindle in the summer months. That coupled with the low percentage of people eligible to donate (38 percent of the population) and even smaller number who actually donate (just 10 percent) often means organizations struggle to keep up with need in the summer.

“The numbers are against us,” Yeager said. “And when we see weeks like this, it’s very encouraging.”

Columbian Health Reporter