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Blood centers and hospitals across Wisconsin are facing an extreme blood shortage. This includes all types of blood. The low number of blood products available is also impacting the country. The ongoing pandemic, holiday season and recent tragedies due to the tornados in the south have caused increasing problems and the need for blood products. Donors are needed.

America’s Blood Centers and the American Red Cross state that “the blood supply in the United States has reached one of its lowest levels in recent years. Blood centers across the country are reporting less than one day’s supply of blood — a dangerously low level. If the nation’s blood supply does not stabilize soon, lifesaving blood may not be available for some patients when it is needed.”

Blood donations are a life-saving treatment that is only made possible by donors. Kristin Paltzer, Public Relations Manager at Versiti Inc., a nonprofit that focuses on donations, research and improving the patient experience, says, “one donation can save up to three lives.”

Seasonal Decrease

The American Red Cross reports that donations are statistically lower during the holiday season and winter. This is due to increased travel, seasonal illnesses and weather changes. In addition, Wisconsinites and Americans are experiencing lower donor turnout because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Amidst issues, donors are needed to restock the dwindling supplies. Blood products – including whole blood, plasma, red blood cells, and platelets – do not have a long shelf life and are continuously needed. Thankfully, blood replenishes itself within the body and donors are able to give about six times a year.

Annual Needs

Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin states:

  • About 40,000 units of red blood cells are needed every day
  • The number of blood units donated is about 14 million per year
  • There are approximately 8 million volunteer blood donors
  • About 4 million patients receive transfusions of blood units each year
Blood donations

Blood Types

All blood types are needed to help the shortage. You do not need to know your blood type in order to donate, but it can help. After donating once, you will be able to find out what type you are. “O positive is the most common type and O negative is the universal blood type,” says Paltzer. Additionally, she says, “different components of the blood do different things.”

If you are someone looking to give plasma, AB blood is the universal type. Again, knowing this information is not required in order to give. Educators and staff at events can assist. Online resources are also available:

Various Recipents

Paltzer notes, “cancer patients, premature babies, mothers who have given birth, patients with Sickle Cell or chronic conditions, people who get in car accidents, those having surgery” all require blood. She says, “it’s more common than we think.”

The process can take up to three days from when the blood is tested, processed and ready to infuse. When emergencies strike or products are needed, there must be an adequate supply available to help save lives. So how can you get involved?

Become a Donor

Becoming a donor is the most impactful way to increase blood supply and help end the shortage. There are various donations accepted and places where you can donate.

In Racine County, you can donate blood at:

The COVID-19 Impact

COVID-19 has impacted blood donations and the donating process. Donations will only be collected from individuals who are healthy and feeling well at the time of donation. 

If you are someone experiencing COVID-19 symptoms or have been diagnosed currently with the virus, do not enter a donation site and risk infecting others. Those who have received the COVID-19 vaccine must wait two days after receiving the vaccination to donate blood.

Blood centers and mobile blood donation events take extreme precautions and follow all disinfecting and sanitation protocols set forth by the hosts of the donation sites and the CDC. This ensures a safe atmosphere for all.

Get Involved

Perhaps you want to help but are unable to give blood. This could be due to medical reasons, religious reasons, or personal concerns. There are still ways to help make an impact.

Ways to Give this Holiday Season

The holidays are an extra special time. Giving can be the ultimate gift. So here are some ways that you can give a little extra during this season:

  • Plan a cookie baking and blood donating day
    • Eat cookies after donation
  • Set up a time to donate with friends or family
    • Coordinating schedules can be a nice way to spend time with others
  • Instead of doing a white elephant gift exchange at your work party, collect monetary donations
    • Donate funds to a blood center
  • Get festive
    • Wear Santa hats to your blood donation appointment
    • Wear ugly holiday sweaters
  • Make Christmas cards for blood center volunteers and donors

Holidays in Racine County

Looking for other ways to get in the spirit? Read more on the Racine County Eye.

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