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Blood bank faces ‘alarming’ shortage of type O blood

Updated October 18, 2021 - 1:52 pm

Vitalant announced Monday that its supply of type O blood had plummeted to the lowest levels since early in the COVID-19 pandemic and called upon Southern Nevadans to donate.

The nonprofit blood supplier has a two-day supply on hand of type O, often used in emergencies because it is compatible with all blood types. The supply is at its lowest levels since May 2020, a representative said.

“It’s an alarming situation,” Vitalant representative Brittany Estrella said.

The pandemic continues to result in canceled blood drives, which affects the supply, she said. Some people also erroneously believe they can’t donate blood after getting a COVID-19 or flu shot, reducing the number of donors. However, there is no waiting period.

“We’re asking right now anyone who feels healthy and well to donate, especially if you’re a type O,” she said.

If the shortage continues, “We may not be able to meet the hospital patients’ needs,” Estrella said. “If there’s not blood on the shelves in an emergency situation, elective surgeries may have to be rescheduled. We really don’t want to see it come to that point in the community.”

The shortage is both local and nationwide, she said. Vitalant supplies blood to 900 hospitals around the country.

Vitalant also is experiencing a critical shortage of platelets, tiny cells that help blood clot. Roughly 50 percent of platelets are given to cancer patients undergoing treatment. Platelets must be transfused within about a week of donation.

To learn more or schedule an appointment to donate, visit vitalant.org or call 877-25-VITAL (877-258-4825).

When Vitalant has previously made such an appeal, “It’s a critical situation, and we have really seen the community come together,” Estrella said.

Contact Mary Hynes at mhynes@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0336. Follow @MaryHynes1 on Twitter.

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