National blood crisis declared

Blood drives planned in county to address shortage

Earlier this week, the American Red Cross declared a national blood crisis, a first-time declaration for the agency, and is urging people to donate blood to address an urgent need for blood.  DeSoto County blood donation location Vitalant also said it is ready to help.

The Red Cross said doctors are being forced to make tough choices about who receives blood transfusions and who needs to wait until more blood supplies are available.  Blood and platelet donations are critically needed to help prevent further delays in vital medical treatments.

“While some types of medical care can wait, others can’t,” said Dr. Pampee Young, chief medical officer of the Red Cross. “Hospitals are still seeing accident victims, cancer patients, those with blood disorders like sickle cell disease, and individuals who are seriously ill who all need blood transfusions to live even as Omicron cases surge across the country. We’re doing everything we can to increase blood donations to ensure every patient can receive medical treatments without delay, but we cannot do it without more donors. We need the help of the American people.”

The Red Cross said it has experienced a 10 percent decline in the number of people donating blood since the beginning of the COVDI-19 pandemic and continues to confront relentless issues due to the pandemic, including ongoing blood drive cancellations and staffing limitations. Adding to the concern is the surge of COVID-19 cases. The Red Cross has experienced low donor turnout ever since the delta variant began spreading in August, and that trend continues as the Omicron variant takes over.

Everyone is urged to make an appointment at a blood donation center, visit RedCrossBlood.org or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767). The Red Cross also has a Red Cross Blood Donor App that can be downloaded and used.  

January is National Blood Donor Month and Vitalant, as a local blood collection location in DeSoto County, is also urging blood donations, especially now with the shortages of all types of blood.  

All eligible donors, especially those with the most transfused blood type O, which is currently at less than half of the desired four-day supply, are critically needed to make an appointment now to give in the days and weeks ahead. As a special thank you during January, National Blood Donor Month, all those who give with Vitalant any time this month will be entered into the $5,000 Big Game Giveaway to win one of four, $5,000 prepaid gift cards redeemable by email.* 

“It’s important for people to remember that they can give blood immediately after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine if you’re healthy and well,” said Vitalant Chief Medical Officer Dr. Ralph Vassallo. “To ensure patient care isn’t jeopardized, we need people to schedule an appointment today. Even if the appointment is several weeks from now, setting and keeping it will help replenish what’s needed for both routine treatments and emergencies.”  

To learn more and schedule an appointment to donate through Vitalent, please visit www.vitalant.org or call 877-25-VITAL (877-258-4825). Vitalant follows strict protocols to ensure the safety of donors, patients, and staff, including social distancing and other precautions. Masks are required for all donors, staff, volunteers and guests regardless of vaccination status. There is no waiting period to donate after receiving a Food and Drug Administration authorized COVID-19 vaccine or seasonal flu vaccine if other eligibility requirements are met.

According to Vitalant, there are many reasons for the current blood shortages, but much of it comes from drives being canceled due to COVID-19 and a decrease in the overall blood donor base.  

Upcoming blood drives in DeSoto County through Vitalant are Jan. 20 at the Olive Branch City Hall from 11:30 a.m.-3 p.m.; Feb. 13, from 11:15 a.m.-2 p.m. at Christ the King Catholic Church, 785 Church Road West in Southaven; and a two-day event, Feb. 14, from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. and again Feb. 15, from 10:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m., at Northwest Mississippi Community College DeSoto Center, 5197 W.E. Ross Parkway in Southaven.  

“We are still requiring masks and as much social distancing as possible,” a Vitalant spokeswoman said. “We ask that you not come to the drives if you are experiencing COVID symptoms. Mostly, just exercise common sense. There is no wait time to donate after receiving your COVID vaccine.”

Bob Bakken

Bob Bakken is the most recognized and most trusted name in DeSoto County news and sports reporting, as readers continue to express their appreciation for his accuracy and fairness in the stories he writes. Bob provides content for DeSoto County News and occasionally is heard on the OB Pod podcast talking about area happenings. A former newspaper editor and writer, his award-winning background also includes television news producing, sports media relations, and radio broadcasting.

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