July 10, 2020

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Southern Nevada faces critical blood shortage after drives canceled

May 22, 2020 |

The nonprofit blood service provider Vitalant is urging the Las Vegas community to donate blood in response to a critical shortage.

Stay-at-home recommendations stemming from the coronavirus pandemic led to cancellations of 205 blood drives in Southern Nevada — and the loss of more than 5,400 uncollected blood donations — since March, according to the organization. And the resumption of surgeries and other medical procedures as stay-at-home restrictions were lifted also has resulted in a 25 percent increase in the need for blood in the past several weeks.

A Vitalant spokeswoman said Thursday that there is a one-day supply of blood remaining in the region.

“Depending on local hospital blood orders, we may borrow blood from one hospital to meet the needs of another,” said Vitalant spokeswoman Brittany McLemore. “But this is a temporary solution until we can increase community awareness of the urgent need right now.

All blood types are critically needed, especially types O, A-negative and B-negative red blood cells. Also, platelets are always needed by patients for cancer treatments, surgeries and emergencies. Because of its short shelf life — only five days — the supply of platelets must be continually replenished.

“We strive to maintain a four-day supply of blood just to provide what patients need, and currently we’re at less than half that for certain blood types,” said Dr. Ralph Vassallo, chief medical officer at Vitalant.

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