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Blood donations in PNW strained by weather, COVID surge, and other challenges

Mark Smith
Bloodworks NW

Blood shortages persist in the Pacific Northwest and the nation as the pandemic and other factors continue to challenge donation centers. Supply is critically low in the region.

The issue is both critical and complex, said Vicki Finson, the Executive Vice President of Blood Services for Bloodworks Northwest. She said the holidays, recent weather events, a surge in COVID-19 cases, and an increase in trauma patients are all factors.

"Also unfortunately our staffing levels also are below where we would want them to be like most businesses and most other healthcare agencies right now," she added, "so it’s inhibiting our ability to do some of the collections we would like to do out more in the other communities.”

Finson said they’ve been struggling for months running with a one to two day blood supply, but now they’re down to a half day supply. She adds medical teams at blood centers and at hospital locations are triaging where blood is most needed.

"There are delays in people getting transfusions because there's not enough donors, there's not enough blood for everyone who needs it," Finson said.

She’s urging people to not only donate now, but throughout the year if they can.

"It's not that you need to [donate] tomorrow, or next week even if it's not convenient for you, we draw blood 364 days of the year and people are transfused every day," Finson said.

According to Bloodworks Northwest there are nearly 500 open appointments this week and nearly 1300 open next week in the region. Appointments can be made online at bloodworksnw.org.

Melorie Begay is a multimedia journalist for KLCC News. She was the Inaugural KLCC Public Radio Foundation Journalism Fellow. She has a bachelors in Multimedia Journalism from the University of New Mexico. She previously interned at KUNM public radio in Albuquerque, NM and served as a fellow for the online news publication New Mexico In Depth.