Blood, platelet shortages in West Texas at critical levels

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LUBBOCK, Texas — Vitalant spreading awareness of the need for blood donations at anytime as the pandemic has played a big toll on critical blood and platelet shortages.

Vitalant is the only local nonprofit provider for blood for the hospitals in West Texas, and with donations being low, it’s harder to help hospitals in need.

“We do have a critical shortage for all blood types here in our West Texas area. It’s actually a critical shortage across the nation.” Brandon Baker, senior recruitment manager at Vitalant, said.

According to Baker, they use about 135 units of blood every day at hospitals.

“So the more we can get people in, the quicker those, those numbers will be able to rebound,” Baker said.

Baker said that people’s lives depend on donors who go in as COVID-19 has affected everyone’s lives.

“As things open back up, as more people are now able to do different elective surgeries and more hospitals are opening up. That means there are more procedures being done, more surgeries, and things like that. So blood can be used for any number of things, from traumatic accidents, surgeries, cancer therapy, and things like that. And the more hospitals are opening up, the more bloods need to be used,” Baker said.

According to Baker, the whole donation process is typically around 45 minutes from start to finish.

“There’ll be a quick health history questionnaire where we make sure you’re healthy enough to donate blood. There’s actually the short donation process, of course, and then right afterward, we give you a snack and a drink, and then we send you on your way.” Baker said

Bakers said they have a four-day supply of all blood, but specifically only a two-day supply of the O positive and their own negative donors.

“I know exactly how important it is that the blood supplies get replenished because I’ve been in cases where we’ve had to give hundreds of units of blood, so anytime I get a chance to donate, come and give blood,” Jamie Garret, a travel nurse, said.

Garrett said she donates as much as she can because she knows firsthand how critical blood and platelets are needed.

“I’ve been in the operating room in cases where people have needed blood emergently–and it’s just one of those things that every time I see a unit of O positive blood, I think to myself, that could be my blood going into this patient. And so, it becomes real at that point. It becomes real and tangible because you see the physical blood going in. If it’s your type, you think to yourself that could possibly be my blood,” Garrett said.

To donate you can walk in to Vitalant or call 877-25-VITAL / (877-258-4825) to make an appointment.

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