Blood shortage has providers raising efforts

By Paula Cronic: PNT Staff Writer

A shortage of blood donors has area blood service providers concerned enough to step up their efforts.

United Blood Services of Lubbock, which provides blood to Portales, Clovis, Hobbs and parts of West Texas, has recently gone on critical appeal for blood.

Going on critical appeal for blood means the UBS facility is unable to fill all the orders to the hospitals they supply, according to Donor Recruitment Director Les Long, g

“The (larger) hospitals use about 120 units every day. So if we have very many days when we draw less than that it can get us in a situation where we can’t fill all the orders,” Long said.

While Roosevelt General Hospital in Portales isn’t necessarily experiencing a direct shortage, Lab Director Bobbi Lyons said there is a shortage of blood across the country.

Lyons said the hospital isn’t short because everything she has asked for she has been given. Also, because RGH is a smaller hospital, they don’t require as much blood.

Plains Regional Medical Center seems to be in good shape with their blood supply as well. Laboratory Director Charles Goodale said they’re provided a fairly large stock of blood from UBS and they have each type of blood available to them.

Still, Lyons said it is extremely important for people in our area and all over the country to donate.

The summer months tend to typically be lower than usual because of families being on vacation and schools being out for the summer.
Long said people seem to think they don’t need to give blood because they assume someone else will.

“When we look at why people don’t donate, one of the most frequent things they’ll say is they felt that somebody else would do it,” he said. “Well we’re on critical appeal which shows that somebody else didn’t do it.”

RGH and PRMC do not do its own blood drives so the only chance people in Portales and Clovis have to donate is when UBS holds their blood drives.

Blood only has a shelf life of 42 days and platelets even less than that, lasting only three days, Long said. Because blood does expire and there is no way to tell how much hospitals will need at any given time UBS finds itself issuing a critical appeal more often than the management would like.

“The good thing is if people respond pretty well to the (critical appeal) and come out and donate blood then we’re able to get back out of the hole,” Long said.