Flu season takes a hit on the state blood bank

BISMARCK, N.D. - A particularly harsh strain of the flu this year is taking an unexpected hit on the state’s only blood bank.

Penny Neumiller braved the cold to pitch in a pint. "I try to get in here every 8 weeks," she said.

Blood donation is more than a show of altruism for Neumiller, it's the karmic return of a life-saving favor.

"When I was younger I had to have surgery and I had to have a transfusion, so it's just my way of giving back," said Neumiller.

Who her blood is saving will be a mystery, but according to the blood bank, 30 percent goes to patients battling cancer.

"Premature babies, cancer patients, they utilize blood as well. That's why it’s so important to make sure we have our supply on hand that we need," said Travis Dressler, United Blood Service worker.

United Blood Services is the only blood provider to almost 70 hospitals across North Dakota. So, if you're ever in need of blood, chances are it will come from here.

"I always donate blood when they ever need it," said Ryan Moore, who is a frequent donor.

And this year, they need it more than ever.

"Winter months are especially a challenge, you have cold and flu season where people aren't feeling well enough to donate, and that's been going around our area quite a bit," said Dressler.

If you're on the fence about giving blood, frequent donors say the process is pretty painless.

"I really don't pay attention when they put the needle in. Its alright when I don't pay attention to it,” said Moore.

Donating whole blood takes about ten minutes, and donating platelets takes about an hour and a half

So whether you want to B-negative, or B-positive, blood donations are the lifeblood of our state.