The Why of the Region’s Blood Donation Shortage

Blood transfusions are our lifeline in an emergency…And now, we’re facing a blood supply shortfall in the region.

Blood donation officials say we’re looking at kind of the perfect storm of factors.

Everything from the labor shortage, to our population makeup, to Zika virus effects…all right here in the Valley.

For a guy with a needle in his arm, Larry Roth is a pretty positive guy.

B positive, as a matter of fact.

“After I’ve donated? Tired! No, it feels good. If I can give a little bit, it’s better than doing nothing,” said Roth.

At 100 donations and counting, Larry’s used to the two hour wait to let the needle do its work.

But for regulars like Larry, the wait to donate is getting longer.

“We are struggling to find enough workers, phlebotomists, who are trained and who can draw the blood,” said Jennifer Bredahl of United Blood Services.

Workers, now in short supply with our state’s low unemployment, are the life blood of United Blood Services.

As are students…some of the area’s biggest donors.

“With them out of session, the colleges, the high schoolers who are our best donors, those are all gone. So we have to make up for that,” said Bredahl.

And making up for it with our older folks, frequently snowbirds, may not be an option.

Travelers looking to escape the cold weather by going to warmer places are coming back to find that Zika is putting a crimp in their plans to donate.

“If they have a mosquito bite, it can cause Zika virus,” Bredahl explains. “For safety, we wait 28 days after to donate.”

So be like Larry…and consider donating.

Or our supply could come up dry.

UBS is offering fuel gift cards and a road trip giveaway to drum up donors.

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