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Pandemic Strains Blood Donations Already Hampered By Holidays And Winter

LuAnn Hunt

Blood donors across Oregon are being sought between now and year’s end, to make sure there’s a sufficient supply.  

The holidays and inclement weather are two recurring factors for shortages this time of year, but now COVID-19 is providing its own challenges.

Vicki Finson is Executive Vice President of Blood Services, for Bloodworks Northwest.

"We’re seeing a decrease in the number of appointments being booked, we’re seeing an increase in the “no show” rate of those appointments," Finson told KLCC.  "So this is a good reminder that patients will be transfused on Thanksgiving Day, on Christmas Day, and all of the other days in between. And they need that blood to live.” 

Finson says they’ll need a thousand donors to come forward if they’re to stabilize their blood supply.  She adds all Bloodworks donor sites observe pandemic protocols, and are by appointment only.

As blood organizations push for more donors between now through year’s end, they’re also reminding people they can be repeat visitors to pop-up sites across the Pacific Northwest.

Finson said donors can come back every 56 days, or roughly five times a year.

“One of the things we really ask people to do is to think about donating more frequently," Finson said. "A lot of our donors donate once a year and we’re very grateful for that. But if all those people who donated once, donated twice, or all those people who donated twice, donated three times – we’re not even asking for five – three times, there would never be another blood shortage.”

Bloodworks and other groups are needing donors to stabilize the blood supply through the holiday season. Flu season, the holidays, and the pandemic are taking a toll on donor participation.

Copyright 2020, KLCC. 

Brian Bull is an assistant professor of journalism at the University of Oregon, and remains a contributor to the KLCC news department. He began working with KLCC in June 2016.   In his 27+ years as a public media journalist, he's worked at NPR, Twin Cities Public Television, South Dakota Public Broadcasting, Wisconsin Public Radio, and ideastream in Cleveland. His reporting has netted dozens of accolades, including four national Edward R. Murrow Awards (22 regional),  the Ohio Associated Press' Best Reporter Award, Best Radio Reporter from  the Native American Journalists Association, and the PRNDI/NEFE Award for Excellence in Consumer Finance Reporting.
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