Donating blood to save lives

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Blood donations are in high demand since there has been a shortage since the pandemic in early 2020. Since then, there has been a ten percent overall blood donation decline. A lot of blood drives were canceled within the past two years as businesses and organizations went virtual, and people were staying home.

"School closings and business closures have decreased blood drives. We have been experiencing intermitting and sometimes severe blood shortages that put people’s care at risk and hospital operations at risk,” says Dr. Maria Beaver, a pathologist at Essentia Health.

Dr. Beaver shares how blood donations are used in a variety of treatments. "There are many patients that rely on blood donations for their treatments. So, trauma patients, surgery patients, and cancer patients rely on blood products."

Blood drives are more crucial and impactful. "The only way we get blood products is from human donors, and blood products are a perishable product, so it expires, Dr. Beaver explains. It is a product that needs to be continuously replenished, and that is why we rely on donors to sort of continue providing this life-saving product for us to use for patients.”

Some of the most needed blood types are o positive and negative, and platelets. All blood types are urgently needed now to help end the blood crisis. Through the pandemic, it’s been rough to have traditional donating sites and the ability to recruit new donors. "Repeat donors continue to donate to donation centers, but we have differently seen a decrease at some of these community drives where theirs not people there in person, so there is no one there to donate,” said Dr. Beaver.

In speaking of donors, Barb Jutila has been a consistent donor since 1987 and knows the satisfaction of donating blood. "My husband had passed away, and he had cancer. There was a point in his cancer when he needed a blood transfusion. I saw firsthand how someone can go from so weak to we were ready to go ballroom dancing. He felt so good! You just saw the instant effect of the blood that he received. So, that reassures me that I know someone on the other side is getting my blood, and their doing better. If I am lucky enough to be okay, and if I am healthy, you better know I am giving blood to help others!"

As life in some aspects is returning to normalcy, blood drives are looking for those donors. The Memorial Blood Center will be hosting a mobile blood drive tomorrow at St. Luke’s Hospital from 8:00 am until 4:00 pm. Visit the Memorial Blood Center website to learn more. You don’t have to schedule an appointment, but it’s best to have one. Walk-ins are welcome too.