Bloodworks Northwest declares Code RED - Donors needed to book appointments immediately

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Code RED: Critical shortage of blood

Bloodworks Northwest declared a “Code Red” alert to combat the ongoing significant blood shortage affecting local hospitals and trauma centers across the Pacific Northwest over the last three weeks.

Less than a 24-hour supply is all that remains on the near-empty shelves at Bloodworks. Because Types O and A blood are in critically short supply, Bloodworks cannot keep hospital inventories full. Hospitals have been advised to conserve onsite supplies to maintain a supply for emergencies.

Donors in Washington and Oregon must respond to this emergency by booking and keeping appointments to donate every 56 days.

“Blood is being shipped to hospitals faster than it’s being collected,” said Bloodworks EVP of Blood Services Vicki Finson. 
“We’re actively communicating with hospitals to conserve blood and appealing to donors to book appointments so that doctors don’t need to make difficult decisions like canceling surgeries or postponing treatments based on the blood supply.

"And because donation is by appointment-only, if you cannot make your appointment, it’s critical to cancel so others can fill in for you.”

  • Donations are short 700 units a week compared to the need; 35,000 donors needed to fill open appointments by Memorial Day; 78,000 by Independence Day.
  • A sustained increase in patient demand for blood, combined with low donor turnout, means only 85% of the blood needed by local patients is now available.
  • Hospitals are demanding more blood than the local community supply can currently support; record needs fluctuating daily between 10 – 18% above normal usage.
  • Bloodworks is asking Washington and Oregon hospitals to “actively conserve” blood.
  • “Donor Fatigue”: A combination of warm weather, a feeling that the pandemic may almost be over, the number of donors booking and keeping their appointments have dropped significantly – the worst (most sustained) appointment no-show rate since shortly after the pandemic began.
  • All regions of the U.S. are currently experiencing a shortage, so assistance from other centers is uncertain or minimal. Indeed, centers across the nation have been asking Bloodworks for help.
  • Responding to emergencies requires blood that is already collected, tested, on the shelves, and ready for immediate use. Bloodworks needs at least a four-day inventory to respond immediately to emergencies or a dramatic increase in needs from patients.
  • Because of the pandemic, appointments are required, which means Bloodworks can only accommodate a fixed number of donation appointments per day. People not showing up to appointments impacts the ability to collect enough blood. For assistance finding or rescheduling an appointment, please call 800-398-7888.
  • There is no waiting period before giving blood after receiving a COVID-19 vaccination!

“Maintaining a safe and reliable blood supply is critical to public health and the ability of trauma centers to respond to emergencies,” said Bloodworks Northwest President and CEO Curt Bailey. 

“The community must immediately prioritize donating blood for the health of local patients, including individuals with cancer and other life-threatening diseases.“

Find a location HERE


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