Oklahoma blood supply hits emergency low levels, donors needed

The Shawnee News-Star
Many people volunteered to donate blood at the Tecumseh Community Blood Drive recently. PROVIDED

OKLAHOMA CITY  ─ Oklahoma Blood Institute’s blood supply remains at a critical level heading into the July 4th holiday weekend.

Although donors have responded to the blood emergency declaration, the blood supply has not rebounded as much as needed as hospital usage remains critically high. Last week’s hospital usage was nearly 20% higher than expected levels, based on historic usage patterns.

A less-than-robust blood supply represents a more serious concern heading into the July 4th holiday weekend, where car crashes and traumas are likely to increase. The timing of this year’s holiday also means two days of blood collection will be lost, widening the gap between need and available supply.

Due to a nationwide blood shortage, a strained blood supply represents an even more dangerous situation than it did in years past. Recently, an active shooter in Austin shot 14 people, creating an immediate and serious need for blood products. The blood center in that area put out a national call for help, but only 20% of their need was met by other blood centers, who were facing emergency shortages and could spare little to help.

“The last year has been an unstable pattern of ups and downs for our blood supply, but none has been so worrying as the barely detectable reaction to the 14-victim shooting in Austin,” said Dr. John Armitage, President and CEO of Oklahoma Blood Institute. “Such an anemic reaction is not at all typical and warns of a weakening national resilience to face the next mass casualty event.”

To rebuild the blood supply and be prepared for the holiday weekend, donors are needed immediately. Blood donation takes about an hour and can save up to three lives. Donors can find locations to donate at obi.org or by calling 877-340-8777. While COVID-19 vaccination is not required of blood donors, those who have been vaccinated can donate immediately, assuming they are feeling well.

Oklahoma Blood Institute is the 6th-largest independent blood center in the nation, providing more than 90% of Oklahoma’s blood supply to over 160 hospitals and medical facilities. For more information, visit obi.org.