Winter weather, illness heavily impacting blood supply

RENO, Nev. (KOLO) -- January is National Blood Donor Month, yet there is a nationwide blood shortage across the nation, including northern Nevada. Vitalant, formerly known as United Blood Services, is strongly encouraging donors to give blood as soon as possible.

Winter weather and cold and flu season are in full swing, and drastically affecting community blood supplies. Severe weather can also lead to more accidents and an increased need for blood. Vitalant said because of this, now is a crucial time for new donors to step up and make a blood donation.

Currently, there’s a critical need for all blood types, especially type O-Negative. Vitalant needs to collect about 1,050 donations of all types per week to replenish the supply and meet the needs of area patients.

"If you're 16 years old with parental permission or 18 years old and on your own and are at least 110 pounds and feeling healthy, please come by and try to donate blood and see if you're eligible,” Scott Edward, Senior Recruitment Manager at Vitalant, said. “We do have a lot of questions about medications or travel and health questions that we ask, but if you've been wondering please swing by and try to donate."

Striving to maintain a 4-day supply of type-O blood, Vitalant is currently at less than half that amount for the national supply.

Edward said being a blood donor is more than just giving blood; it’s about making a difference and helping the community.

"You get to interact with thousands of people each month that are doing something for the right reason; you know they're saving lives,” Edward said, “So you really get to see the best side of our community when you interact with our blood donors."

Not only is the company encouraging people to become blood donors; Vitalant is partnering with The Make A Wish Foundation for its third year.

"Part of the funds are going to go to the Make A Wish Foundation instead,” Edward said, “With the blood centers here in northern Nevada and blood centers across California, we want to collect over 19,000 donations in January, and those funds would go to Make A Wish."

To schedule an appointment to give blood or find a blood donation center near you, visit www.bloodhero.com or call 887-258-4825. Walk-in donors are also welcome.