Alex, Gonzales | January 19, 2023
Arizona’s blood supply is at its lowest level in a year.
Vitalant is encouraging Arizonans of all blood types to donate blood, especially universal donors, those with the O-blood type.
Sue Thew, communications manager for Vitalant Arizona, said the nonprofit community blood provider, which provides blood to about 90% of all Arizona hospitals, has struggled to keep up with demand as many organizations have shifted to remote work, meaning fewer blood drives are being hosted at workplaces.
Thew emphasized to keep up with Arizona’s need for blood, it takes about 600 blood donors every day.
“We’ve struggled ever since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Thew acknowledged. “But with now so many people working virtually, we have found ourselves that we have lost about 50% of our business blood drives.”
She stressed it has caused a huge decline in the amount of blood available on hospital shelves. According to Vitalant, about one in five hospital patients requires a blood transfusion.
Thew noted January is the one month of the year when the demand for blood is high, but supply tends to be low. She said Christmas Eve through New Year’s Day is the slowest time for blood donations due to many being on vacation during the holiday season. It is followed by the highest blood transfusion month of the year, because many surgeries are put off until January, after the holidays.
“That combined with our high number of winter visitors makes Arizona’s transfusion rate and population very, very high this time of year,” Thew explained.
Thew encouraged Arizonans to roll up their sleeves to donate. Individuals who give blood through the end of the month will get a free ticket to the Renaissance Festival. She added the blood shortage is a nationwide problem and reminded people one never knows when you or a loved one will depend on the generosity of a blood donor.