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Blood Banks continues to see a heightened need of O negative and O positive blood

Blood donation centers across the U.S. are in a constant battle against the clock, working to maintain enough blood for hospital use in transfusions.
Updated: Jun. 15, 2022 at 7:30 AM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Blood donation centers across the U.S. are in a constant battle against the clock, working to maintain enough blood for hospital use in transfusions.

“Every day matters because every day we are up against the clock to get more blood in, to fulfill the needs,” said Blood Bank of Alaska Director of Collections and Recruitment Wes Dahlgren.

It is an endless race to fill up the shelves prior to emergencies.

“Making sure we have a stable supply of donors coming through our doors is important because if we don’t have the donors, we don’t have the blood to supply the hospitals,” Dahlgren said.

However, the Blood Bank of Alaska is facing obstacles in their race to get blood on the shelves. According to Dahlgren, they have noticed a decrease in foot traffic coming to their blood donation center.

“What we’ve seen throughout the last half year or so, is just a general fatigue amongst our donors, you know, coming out of the pandemic,” Dahlgren said. “You couple that with the change in weather and donors not really wanting to take the time to come in and donate”

The lack of donors comes at a critical time as the state continues to see a shortage and critical need of O positive and O negative blood types. Alaska has seen a critical need for these blood types since December. Dahlgren said since then, the need for these blood types has only heightened and with the summer months rolling in, it’s even more critical now.

“The Fourth of July weekend is coming up, which is notorious for traumas and accidents across the state,” Dahlgren said.

Just one blood donation can be the difference between life and death — a story that many donors say that have experienced first hand. Sarah Dow donated the first time she saw the impact blood donations had on saving lives.

“A friend had open heart surgery,” Dow said. “And then we just had a friend that was in a car accident — one of our co-workers — so one of our HR reps asked us all to go donate blood.”

Since then, Dow has donated blood twice and has no plans on stopping.

“It makes me feel good that I can do something positive for someone else,” Dow said.

Others like her share a similar passion. Robert Trout has been a lifelong donor. He has donated blood and plasma for the past 50 years.

“Probably around 500 times. I’m at 52 gallons. Here just in Alaska,” Trout said.

Trout has traveled across the country and world donating blood, which is a tradition he has no plans on stopping anytime soon. However, he said as he gets older he will someday no longer be able to donate blood.

“Eventually I’m going to not be able to donate, so we need younger people to come in and donate,” Trout said.

Michael Allexa, a 17-year-old from Anchorage, is already hoping to do. On Monday, Allexa woke up and decided to donate blood. This was his second time donating, after donating for the first time at a high school blood donation event. It is a tradition he plans on incorporating now through the rest of his life.

“I just like donating blood, giving people like a chance if they need it, like f they are in a hospital or something,” Allexa said.

Interested donors can visit the Blood Bank of Alaska’s website for more information about setting up an appointment to donate. Donors should expect donations to take roughly between 45 minutes to an hour.

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