The nonprofit blood service provider Vitalant is urging the Las Vegas community to donate blood in response to a critical shortage.
Stay-at-home recommendations stemming from the coronavirus pandemic led to cancellations of 205 blood drives in Southern Nevada — and the loss of more than 5,400 uncollected blood donations — since March, according to the organization. And the resumption of surgeries and other medical procedures as stay-at-home restrictions were lifted also has resulted in a 25 percent increase in the need for blood in the past several weeks.
A Vitalant spokeswoman said Thursday that there is a one-day supply of blood remaining in the region.
“Depending on local hospital blood orders, we may borrow blood from one hospital to meet the needs of another,” said Vitalant spokeswoman Brittany McLemore. “But this is a temporary solution until we can increase community awareness of the urgent need right now.
All blood types are critically needed, especially types O, A-negative and B-negative red blood cells. Also, platelets are always needed by patients for cancer treatments, surgeries and emergencies. Because of its short shelf life — only five days — the supply of platelets must be continually replenished.
“We strive to maintain a four-day supply of blood just to provide what patients need, and currently we’re at less than half that for certain blood types,” said Dr. Ralph Vassallo, chief medical officer at Vitalant.
Vitalant said its centers continue to use strict precautionary measures to ensure the safety of donors, patients and staff, including:
— Taking donors’ temperatures upon check-in. Staff members self-monitor their temperatures.
— Requiring face masks or cloth-based face coverings for both donors and staff.
— Disinfecting donor-touched and other high-touch areas often and after every donation.
— Ensuring social distancing to keep donors and staff safe.
Vitalant urges donors to give blood as soon as possible by going online to vitalant.org or calling 877-258-4825 (877-25-VITAL).