Blood donations needed to alleviate critical shortage

By Randi Pierce
Staff Writer
Vitalant, the second largest blood provider in the country, is urging groups to continue organizing blood drives and for individuals to continue donating blood unless local public health officials specifically direct otherwise, warning that canceled blood drives can devastate the blood supply and impair patient care.
Further, Centura Health, one of the state’s largest health care providers, is warning that there’s a critical shortage in the state.
“Blood drives at schools, churches, community groups and religious institutions — which represent more than 60% of the nation’s blood supply — are events critical to health care in our country, and if canceled, could jeopardize patient care,” a Vitalant press release states.
A Centura press release explains that, due to increased precautions around social distancing, local blood centers anticipate a 20 percent decline in donations this week alone, and up to a 35 percent decline in the coming weeks. It is important to note that blood donation is not considered a large social gathering, and individuals who are well and healthy can safely donate blood. Having a well-stocked inventory of blood products is crucial for health care facilities, as trauma, cancer and sickle cell patients routinely benefit from blood donations.
“In these difficult times, giving blood is something healthy individuals can do to help the sick. The only source for blood—literally in many hospital procedures, the source of life—is another human being,” Dr. Ralph Vassallo, Vitalant’s chief medical and scientific officer, is quoted as saying. “We need people to donate blood today, while following guidance from the CDC and other agencies.”
Claire Ninde, director of communication for San Juan Basin Public Health, reported to The SUN Wednesday that the public health agency is “in support of blood drives, knowing that the entities conducting these locally are following best practice protocols to keep people safe.”
“The blood collection process is safe,” Vitalant’s press release explains. “In addition to the vigorous FDA-mandated testing of all blood components donated, Vitalant staff follow rigorous safety and disinfection protocols on our bloodmobiles and in our donation centers. Finally, giving blood has no impact on the donor’s immune system.”
Upcoming blood drives scheduled in the region include in Bayfield on March 28, in Durango on April 1 and in Pagosa Springs on April 2.
To make an appointment, visit
To make an appointment for the Durango blood drive, which will be in the Bloodmobile in the Mercy Regional Medical Center parking lot from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., call Songtree Pioche at 764-1170 or visit and enter the sponsor code mrmc.
To learn more about the donation process, donor eligibility requirements or to schedule an appointment at one of the mobile sites, visit

This story was posted on March 30, 2020.