Blood Bank says supplies dangerously low

PITTSBURGH – Despite the arrival of warmer temperatures, this week’s latest round of arctic weather has caused a nationwide blood shortage, where its effects are being felt throughout Pittsburgh-area hospitals.

Central Blood Bank reports more than 600 donors canceled or missed appointments the past two weeks alone. For the month of January, the blood supplier’s inventories remain down by more than 1,000 units. While a typical shortage during the winter holidays normally gets replenished by mid-January, one of the worst winters on record is forcing blood bank officials to ramp up their requests for donations.

To help overcome this shortage, Central Blood Bank is encouraging donors to visit any of its 25 area community donor centers and fixed sites throughout western Pennsylvania and northern West Virginia.

While donors of all types are needed, those with blood types O positive and O negative are in particular demand. O positive inventory levels are at less than half of normal levels and at two-thirds of minimum levels. Inventories of O negative are even lower, at only 37 percent of minimum level.

“Even though we are importing blood from outside the region, we’re still unable to consistently meet the requests for blood from our local hospitals,” says Chris McClure, director of product inventory. “That’s why we’re asking our own donors to step up through the end of this week and next, so elective surgeries are not impacted.”

Blood transfusion needs don’t change with the weather, and the nationwide shortage is affecting hospitals, trauma centers and thousands of patients.

Make an appointment or get information by visiting centralbloodbank. org or calling (866) 366-DONORS-1.