Blood donations are down close to 50 percent at Bloodworks Northwest, one of the primary suppliers of donated blood in Western Washington and Oregon.
Lauren Reagan, community engagement liaison for the Vancouver branch of Bloodworks Northwest, said the organization is seeking 1,000 donations a day at its 12 locations across Washington and Oregon.
Currently, only 30 percent of the donors needed in October have booked appointments, creating a need for over 14,000 more donations before Oct. 31, according to a press release.
One key strategy that staff at Bloodworks Northwest hope will bolster donations is campus visits. This year, mobile donation vans will make the rounds to high schools and colleges throughout Western Washington and Oregon for the first time since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Reagan said Bloodworks Northwest hopes to bring on 10,000 new donors this school year.
Prior to the pandemic shutting down schools and mobile blood donations, 16- to 25-year-olds made up about 20 percent of blood donors through Bloodworks Northwest, according to Reagan.
“So, we are holding a lot of hope that these high school students can make a huge impact,” she said.
The goal at Bloodworks Northwest is to remain in the “green zone,” with enough donated blood to have a three-day supply in back stock. That requires 1,000 donations a day.
Despite a need for more donors, Bloodworks Northwest shipped an emergency supply of 30 units of blood to SunCoast Blood Centers in Florida last week, in preparation for the potential need in response to Hurricane Ian.
“While our Type O supplies are tight, this is a need we must respond to,” Curt Bailey, Bloodworks president and CEO, said in a press release. “Florida is facing an extremely dangerous situation, and it’s critical we help them, just as they would help us in our own time of need.”
Type O negative blood is the most-needed blood type in a trauma situation because it is the universal blood type for emergency transfusions, according to Reagan.
In May, Bloodworks Northwest joined 30 blood centers across the country in forming the Blood Emergency Readiness Corps, to help ensure there is a large blood supply following a multiple-injury, mass-transfusion event such as a school shooting, according to a press release.
For Bloodworks Northwest, this means committing to store an extra 15 units of type O negative and type O positive blood on a rotating schedule so it can be available to all Blood Emergency Readiness Corps members in case of an emergency.
As the regional pool of blood donors remains low, not having an excess supply in case of an emergency can be worrisome.
“Our community is running dangerously low on the platelets and Type O blood needed to supply local hospitals, straining our ability to provide transfusions for every cancer and surgery patient who need them,” Bailey said in a press release. “If a mass trauma event were to happen today, we would not have enough blood available to help everyone who needs it. It is vital people donate blood to support everyday needs of patients as well as unforeseen emergencies.”
Eligible people can donate blood every 56 days and are encouraged to continue to donate as often as they are able to, according to Reagan.
While preparing to donate blood, she recommends hydrating in the 24 hours leading up to the donation, eating a high-sodium meal the night before and eating a full meal two hours before the actual blood draw.
The donation process usually takes around an hour, though only about seven to 10 minutes of that is the actual blood draw, according to Reagan.
For more information on how and where to donate, visit BloodworksNW.org or call 800-398-7888.