In response to a nationwide blood shortage, North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum declared Saturday Blood Donation Day.
Every two seconds, someone in the U.S. needs blood. That’s why Carol Fulford comes to Vitalant in Bismarck to donate.
“A lot of patients, a lot of persons could use it, and I’m happy to help them,” Fulford said.
Vitalant’s blood donor recruitment representative Colleen Scott says donations help patients at nearly 70 hospitals statewide.
“There’s always a need for blood donations,” Scott said. “The need is constant.”
Although fewer people donated during the pandemic, Scott says demand has dropped, too, so they’re still able to meet the needs of hospitals.
They send about 250 blood products out every day. During holiday weekends with increased travel, like this one, the demand spikes.
“The estimate is about 43,000 vehicle accidents during the long weekend, so the need for blood product definitely goes up,” Scott said.
The American Red Cross, which collects 40 percent of the nation’s blood, is encouraging anyone who can donate, to do it.
“The Red Cross and other organizations have seen severe shortages this year. All the more reason for people to step up and give,” American Red Cross Minnesota and Dakotas Region Communications Director Carrie Carlson-Guest said.
While many people think of car crash victims when they think of who needs blood, it goes far beyond that.
“Often, when a woman gives birth, if there are complications, they can need dozens of units of blood. Platelets go to cancer patients, it seems we all know someone with cancer. There are so many other needs, like sickle cell anemia, that blood goes to treat all the time,” Carlson-Guest said.
Carlson-Guest says more people are able to donate than they think, with the FDA regularly changing guidelines, so it’s important to check in with your blood center.
“For a long time, the FDA said you can’t donate for a year after the tattoo. As long as it’s done in a licensed facility, there’s no wait period,” Scott said.
Scott says all blood types are needed all the time, and you can donate up to six times a year. She also says if you’ve previously had COVID, or have been vaccinated, you’re eligible to donate.
Vitalant’s largest blood donor drive in the area, Battle of the Badges, will start next week. The friendly competition pits law enforcement against firefighters to see which group of responders can get the most donations. For more information about that drive and about Vitalant, head here.