Worse-than-expected flu season reduces blood donations

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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) -- This year’s cold and flu season has been worse than usual, which is impacting blood donations across the country, including Northern Nevada. Since the start of 2018, donation appointment cancellations at United Blood Services blood centers in Reno, Sparks and Carson City have increased due to the intense cold and flu season.

In addition to the rise in canceled appointments, community blood drives throughout Northern Nevada are collecting much less blood than anticipated through the first eight days of the year. Reports of illness from volunteer blood drive chairpersons have also been on the rise, resulting in lower donor attendance rates and causing additional concern for the collection trend in January.

Overall, United Blood Services reports donation totals at 13% under the originally-expected level of blood collections, equating to 130 fewer units collected than what is needed to support patient needs in our community.

The impacts of this exceptionally strong cold and flu season have made an additional impact to an already challenging period of time to collect blood donations, as holiday travel and other competing priorities affect the number of available blood donors in our community.

United Blood Services encourages anyone who is healthy and able to donate to make an appointment today at bloodhero.com or by calling 800-696-4484. All blood types are requested with a critical emphasis on O-negative.

O-negative is the universal blood type and can be transfused to any patient. This blood type is often used in emergency situations when doctors do not have time to check a patients’ blood type before transfusion.

Volunteer blood donors must be at least 16 years old, weigh a minimum of 110 pounds and be in good health. Additional height/weight requirements apply to donors 22 and younger, and donors ages 16 – 17 must have signed permission from a parent or guardian. For more information, visit unitedbloodservices.org.