Blood shortage prompts donation plea

Citing low reserves of blood supplies throughout the Bay Area and surrounding regions, the Blood Centers of the Pacific Monday encouraged the public to donate blood of all types.

The San Francisco-based organization is currently experiencing a shortage throughout its service area, which ranges up north to the Oregon border, east to Northern Nevada and south in the Merced area, according to the organization.

In recent months, the fluctuating blood inventory level has been trending at an approximate two-day supply for patients, which is half of the quantity needed, organization officials said.

Blood Centers of the Pacific chief medical officer Dr. Suchita Pandey said in a statement:

“It is critical that we are prepared to respond to blood needs because it is a matter of life and death. This unprecedented shortage of blood has great potential to compromise our ability to support the transfusions that physicians need to care for, or even save the lives of, their patients.”

Over the last year, demand for blood at hospitals has increased.

Compared to July 2015, blood center officials estimate about 500 more pints of red blood cells will be needed this month alone to meet the demand.

The increase in blood usage among patients, combined with plummeting levels of donations since Memorial Day, has created an extra strain on already low supplies, organization officials said.

Resources from out of state are also in low supply as blood centers across the country are also suffering from a widespread decline in donations.

Blood donations are usually not as frequent in the summer months because of summer breaks at high schools and colleges, where blood drives are usually hosted. This summer, however, has seen an unusually low number of donations, in part because of the effects of the Zika virus, according to the organization.

Each week, Blood Centers of the Pacific and its partner blood centers need at least 8,000 donors to meet the needs of patients in the area.

Of the general population, however, less than 40 percent is eligible to donate blood and less than 10 percent of those eligible actually donate, organizations officials said.

Blood Centers of the Pacific and its partners provide blood to more than 100 hospitals in the Bay Area and elsewhere. To schedule an appointment to donate blood, interested donors can visit bloodheroes.com or call (888) 393-4483.