DES MOINES, Iowa -- Normally the region’s largest blood donation center is closed on Sundays, but a critically low blood supply forced its doors open in the metro.
LifeServe Blood Center first announced its blood shortage of type O in October of last year, and now the need for supplies is at an all-time high. Experts blame the flu season for preventing people from donating.
“A good blood supply for us, an adequate blood supply, is a 3-5 day supply of all blood types on our shelves at all times,” says Christine Hayes, Vice President of Operations at LifeServe.
Hayes says the center has less than a day’s supply of the universal blood type. Knowing that not everyone can give blood, Hayes adds type O blood, both negative and positive, presents a different challenge.
“The unfortunate piece is less than seven percent of our patients have type O negative blood. So our need to keep that blood supply, especially for those bloods types, high for patients' need is critical,' says Hayes.
LifeServe distributes its donations to more than 100 hospitals in Iowa, Nebraska, and South Dakota. In Des Moines, Mercy Medical Center is having to request blood from out of state in order to keep its shelves stocked.
“We have blood from blood centers in South Carolina that has been purchased and shipped to Iowa for our patients to use because we don't have enough donors filling our needs,” says Mercy Medical Center medical laboratory scientist Lori Lovestad.
The hospital’s laboratories are working carefully to make sure no blood goes to waste, prioritizing its most critical patients.
“We may place orders for trauma for O negative for our traumas that come in, but right now we have orders that we placed days ago that we haven't gotten filled yet.”
Lovestad adds elective surgeries may also be delayed due to the shortage.
LifeServe estimates it will take at least a week of consistent donations before it sees an increase in supply levels. The blood bank is also in critical need of B negative and AB negative blood types.
Click here to find out where you can donate.