A flu epidemic and the war in Iraq are to blame for the Reno area's worst blood shortage in more than a decade, officials said.
The shortage is forcing the region's primary blood provider to bring in blood from outside the area to meet hospital needs, the Reno Gazette-Journal reported.
"This is the worst year I've ever seen, and I've been here 13 years," said Alana Ladd-Ross, community relations director for United Blood Services.
Ladd-Ross said the blood bank was short 1,700 local units this year to date, compared with a shortage of 300 to 400 units a year ago.
Blood is in high demand during the Christmas holidays because many people try to get in surgeries before the end of the year for insurance purposes, hospital officials said.
Military personnel regularly donate blood, but many have been deployed and must wait a year to donate upon their return, Ladd-Ross said.
"A lot of military from this area are very good about stepping up and helping the community, and they've gone to Iraq," she said.
The flu and other illnesses have hit many other would-be donors. Donors must not have cold or flu symptoms on the day they donate.
Ladd-Ross said baby boomers make up a large percentage of regular donors, but become ineligible as they age because they take certain medications.
The blood bank's staff will wrap holiday presents for people while they donate blood at their headquarters at 1125 Terminal Way in Reno.
Extended Web Coverage
10 Reasons to Donate Blood
- Blood transfusions save lives.
- There is no substitute for human blood.
- Every three seconds, someone needs a blood transfusion.
- About 60 percent of the population are eligible to donate blood, yet less than five percent do.
- A pint of blood, separated in to components, can help up to three people.
- You will make your community a safer place.
- Fulfills your desire to "give back" to the community.
- You will receive a mini physical (blood pressure, temperature, iron level).
- You will learn your blood type.
- It is safe, simple and it saves lives.
Who Can Donate Blood?
- Anyone who is in good health,
- At least 17 years old (persons 16 may donate with a Blood Program consent form signed by a legal guardian),
- Weighs at least 110 pounds
Source: http://126.96.36.199/donating/blood.htm (Blood Centers of the Pacific Web Site)
If you would like to donate blood or help with the donation process, visit your local American Red Cross