Students account for about 35 percent of Spokane County’s blood donations, but during the holidays, those donations mostly dry up.
It’s one of the reasons that local blood provider Vitalant says blood levels are fragile this time of year, although the group isn’t yet looking at a blood supply shortage. However, donors are needed for the blood supply as 2019 comes around, and Vitalant is short about 150 donors for December.
“January is where we’re worried,” said Tesia Hummer, manager of donor recruitment at Vitalant, the only blood provider in the Spokane area serving more than 35 hospitals.
“That deficit is very likely to grow if we do not find a way to keep our donation centers collecting at the rate” –around 200 donors a day – we need,” she said.
Vitalant, formerly called Inland Northwest Blood Center , feels the squeeze every year around the holidays.
“When we talk about having a stable blood supply, we have to project for what could happen,” she said. “If a tragedy happened, do we have the blood to get that blood to Deaconess, to Sacred Heart, to Kootenai?”
The number of donors that Vitalant needs comes from each hospital’s projected need, she said.
Hummer cited the case of a Duck Boat, an amphibious tour vehicle, which crashed in Seattle in 2015. Four were killed and dozens injured. It required a deep draw from a blood bank there.
“That is an example of when it is imperative that the blood supply is healthy,” Hummer said. “But thankfully, we have not had a lot of high trauma in this area.”
Blood donors have the option of donating whole blood, which takes the average person 42 days to regenerate; or platelets, which take five days to recover.
Plasma donation is another option. Plasma is used to treat patients in shock or who have burns and clot disorders.
Hummer said fewer people are responding to requests for donors around the holidays.
“Our very reliable blood donors have been starting to age out and are having medical issues,” she said. “And we aren’t getting this millennial and upcoming generation filling those holes in the donor base.”
Visit Vitalant’s website at myinbc.org to find a donation center near you.
Editor’s note: This story was changed on Saturday, Dec. 22 to correct the former name of Vitalant. Vitalant was formerly known as the Inland Northwest Blood Center.
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