Nationwide blood shortage is striking close to home

 UCHealth urges Coloradans to donate blood in the next few weeks – and every eight weeks thereafter. 

As the nation faces an unprecedented blood shortage, UCHealth is urging Coloradans to make an appointment to donate blood soon to save lives close to home.

Summertime activities and vacations often prevent people from sticking to their regular blood donation schedules, according to Bridget Aesoph, the donor recruiter at UCHealth Garth Englund Blood Centers in northern Colorado. But this year, the typical summer lull in donations and the seasonal rise in demand for blood have both been exacerbated by the pandemic.

Hospitals are seeing an increased number of severe trauma cases and emergency department visits as well as more blood transfusions because of deferred care and advanced disease progression.

At Garth Englund Blood Centers, red blood cell donations have dropped by nearly 3 percent and demand has increased by almost 9 percent since summer 2019. According to the American Red Cross, the red blood cell demand from hospitals with trauma centers has climbed 10 percent this year nationally.

Officials expect this shortage to last for weeks or even months in what could be the most challenging summer blood centers have seen in years.

“Donating once would be great, but we are really hoping that more people will donate every eight weeks for several months to help keep blood on the shelf,” Aesoph said. “We are going to need a continuous supply coming in to get through this.”

Donated blood is used to help many patients, including those who have sustained serious injuries or burns, those with cancer or other serious illnesses, those who are undergoing surgeries or organ transplant as well as women who experience pregnancy complications.

Donations of all blood types are needed and important. However, the center especially needs donors with O blood type and donations of platelets of all blood types.

  • To donate in northern Colorado: Call 970.495.8965 or go to bit.ly/UCHealthBloodDonation to schedule an appointment at UCHealth’s blood donor centers in Loveland or Fort Collins.
  • To donate in other areas of Colorado:  Go to aabb.org and submit your ZIP code to find a blood center near you.

To donate, a person must be at least 18 years old (or 17 with a parent’s permission) and show a photo identification. New donors must weigh at least 120 pounds and be in good health. Prior donors must weigh at least 110 pounds. Donors also should eat a good meal before their appointment and drink plenty of water the day before and day of the drive. A typical whole blood donation takes 30-40 minutes. More information about eligibility requirements, the donation process and donation center hours is posted at http://bit.ly/uchealthblood.

The blood centers are also in high need of new platelet donors. Platelet donations take anywhere from 90-120 minutes.

“We love all of our donors.” Aesoph said. “Many of them donate blood because they simply want to do something to help others. Others donate because at some point in their lives, a loved one or friend was on the other end of a lifesaving blood transfusion, and they want to pay it forward. Either way, it’s such a quick and easy thing to do, and it saves lives.”

 

About UCHealth 

UCHealth is an innovative, nonprofit health system that delivers the highest quality medical care with an excellent patient experience. UCHealth includes 25,000 employees, 12 acute-care full-service hospitals and hundreds of physicians across Colorado, southern Wyoming and western Nebraska. With University of Colorado Hospital on the CU Anschutz Medical Campus as its academic anchor and the only adult academic medical center in the region, UCHealth is dedicated to providing unmatched patient care in the Rocky Mountain West. Offering more than 150 clinic locations, UCHealth pushes the boundaries of medicine, providing advanced treatments and clinical trials and improving health through innovation.

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