Need for blood goes up, donations down during holiday season

Good Day Dakota

About 80 percent of North Dakotans will need a blood transfusion at some time in their lives, but only about 3 percent of the state’s population donates blood.

Vitalant is hosting a special kind of blood drive this week to get donor numbers up.

The need for donations is always there, but they’re especially needed during the holiday season.

“There’s a variety of different medical problems that lead to the need for blood,” Director of Trauma Surgery at Trinity Health, Dr. Gary Wease, said.

In fact, there’s too many to list. But to name a handful: childbirth, traumatic injury, heart attack survivors, burn victims, and those who suffer from chronic conditions.

Trinity Health in Minot alone utilizes about 250 units of blood a month.

“That’s only blood cells, red blood cells,” Dr. Wease said. “That’s not taking into account all the blood components being plasma, platelets, and other blood components that we have.”

One donation is one pint. One pint is one unit of blood. Vitalant is the region’s only blood supplier. The organization needs 250 donors a day, all seven days of the week, to reach the need in North Dakota, northern South Dakota and western Minnesota.

“There are people waiting in the hospital today to receive the blood that has not been donated yet,” Vitalant donor recruiter, Teresa Johnson said.

Forty percent of Vitalant’s blood units go to cancer patients. Beyond that, about one in every seven patients that enter a hospital, for whatever reason, will need blood.

Dr Wease added, “There’s no substitute for human blood, we don’t have something we can make in a lab that takes the place of people’s blood to transfuse.”

During the holiday season, the need goes up.
“The increase is still there, a lot of people, especially at the end of the year have met their deductibles for insurance and they’re trying to get those surgeries scheduled and so our need does increase,” said Johnson.

But donations go down.
Every two seconds, someone needs blood. In just 30 minutes, one blood donation can save up to three lives.

Donors are always welcome to go to Vitalant donation centers in Minot and Bismarck to donate, no appointment needed.

This week, to celebrate thanksgiving, Vitalant in Bismarck will donate 10 dollars to the Great Plains Food Bank for every donation.

In Minot, Vitalant is hosting a food drive now through the end of the year and every donor this week will get a pumpkin pie.

Blood drives are always encouraged, especially as the weather may keep some rural residents from getting to donation centers.

Click here for blood drives coming up in Bismarck, and here for Minot.

Click here for information to host a blood drive.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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