Blood centers struggle to maintain supply during virus pandemic

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Blood centers across the county are struggling to maintain a stable inventory and avoid a blood shortage.

Vitalant says they've seen nearly 40 percent of their routine drives cancel here in North Dakota.

Now they're calling on the community to donate at local centers.

Last Thursday, the U.S. Surgeon General called on Americas to stay involved in life saving measures.

"Social distancing does not have to mean social disengagement," said Jerome Adams, U.S. Surgeon General.

The closing of businesses and schools have posed a threat to events that bring in thousands of donations.

"Those are typically places that we go for blood drives so that's affected us in the Bismarck area," said Jennifer Brendahl with Vitalant.

Some say they fear spreading or getting infected by the virus, through donations.

"The virus is not a blood borne pathogen, so it’s not something you can get necessary through blood. So when you do your blood donation, we don't necessarily test for that," said Brendahl.

US Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams says it’s time for younger generations to step up.

"One thing we should all consider, especially our millennial is donating blood. Donated blood is an essential part of caring for patients and one donation can save up to three lives," said Adams.

North Dakota coordinators agree saying they've depended on repeat donators for months.

"The concern I have is when I see someone who is 80, 85-years-old donating blood...im thinking, this is the person we really want to stay home and make sure that they're safe, so I would love to see the younger population step up and come out,” said Brendahl.

Vitalant is working to ease blood concerns for hospitals who are focused on the corona virus.

"The last thing I want to do is put that stress on the hospitals in Bismarck region and western north Dakota they don't have enough blood for the patients they're doing surgery on," said Brendahl.

With a shelf life of 42 days, coordinators hope they can keep it stocked before requesting help from other states.

Vitalant is taking extra precautions for those who donate, including asking more questions, and medical screens.

They say their biggest concern is that the donation shortage is nationwide, and they wouldn't get the requests if needed from neighboring states.