Blood Shortage at Emergency Level

Blood Needed
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Blood donations are almost always needed in the Truckee Meadows, but now the shortage has reached emergency levels.

United Blood Service officials say they have barely enough blood to supply Northern Nevada healthcare facilities.

The call for donations is even more critical as the Labor Day weekend approaches.

About 80 pints of blood flow into the office of the United Blood Services every day, but it's far short of the 130 that's needed to keep Northern Nevada's lifeline healthy.

The United Blood Services center feeds 30 healthcare facilities, including St. Mary's Hospital and Washoe Medical Center.

Officials say so far this year, the region's blood supply is 1,400 units below where it should be.

"We don't have any O on the shelves. We're in an emergency for O type blood - we don't have enough blood to send to the hospitals," says Alana Ladd-Ross of United Blood Services.

The low levels put hospitals at risk for canceling elective surgeries or having to rely on other blood centers in Las Vegas or neighboring states.

It's especially worrisome in the days before this holiday weekend.

"Already we're fragile we don't have enough blood and unfortunately a lot of accidents and usage happens on Labor Day weekend," says Ladd-Ross.

August is typically the worst month for blood donations, partly because more people are on vacation and school blood drives are suspended.

United Blood Services officials say this August is the worst they've seen in 13 years.

New donors are needed, and regulars are being asked to come in more often.

"Says regular donor Richard James: "I have been giving for a couple decades. We're helping to give life to someone else, some stranger we don't know . It's something simple, quick and easy to do."

Something blood banks need more people to do to prevent this deficit from becoming deadly.

If you'd like to donate, you can call United Blood Services.

The Reno office number is 324-6454, in Carson City, call 887-9111.