A nationwide blood shortage has reached Arkansas, as blood donations have reached emergency low levels. The shortage has been worsened by consistently high hospital usage, leaving blood centers around the nation short of all blood types heading into the upcoming July 4 holiday period.
The local blood supply is currently at a 1-2 day supply, well below the usual 4-5 day threshold Arkansas Blood Institute feels secure having on hand.
“In the past month, we’ve seen a dramatic drop in blood donations, an alarming development when we were already facing chronic shortfalls,” said Dr. John Armitage, president and CEO of Arkansas Blood Institute. “The public is rightly enjoying the reawakening of social freedoms and a return to normalcy, but if celebrating this rebirth by giving blood does not immediately become a major part of people’s reopening activities, we are going to run out of blood for patients. Harm may well result for many of the sickest folks in our communities.”
The critically low blood supply is more dangerous than it has ever been because nationwide shortages have dried up the emergency safety net usually provided by sharing of units between blood centers. Blood has no substitute, and patients across the state rely on blood products every day to fight cancer, survive trauma and heal after childbirth.
“If Arkansans don’t hear the call and regain their pre-pandemic levels of generosity, we’re facing serious damage to the transfusion care that our hospital partners normally provide,” Armitage said. “We keep thinking that COVID-related problems can’t get worse, but we now have the worst stock levels I have seen in my 26 years of blood banking. We need the Arkansas Standard to gear up into overdrive to carry us out of the sputtering pattern of repeated crises that is starting to emerge post-COVID. We’re pleading with our past, present and future donors to help now.”
Blood donation takes about an hour and can save up to three lives. Donors can find locations to donate at arkbi.org or by calling 877-340-8777. Center hours have been extended, due to the severity of the situation. Donor centers will be open June 22-28 as follows: Monday-Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Saturday, 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Sunday 7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.
While COVID-19 vaccination is not required of blood donors, those who have been vaccinated can donate immediately, assuming they are feeling well.
Arkansas Blood Institute is the local, non-profit blood supplier, supporting the inventory for patients in more than 40 hospitals, medical facilities, and air ambulances statewide.
For more information, visit arkbi.org.