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According to Vitalant, a nonprofit organization that collects blood from voluntary donors across the United States, blood donations in New Mexico have fallen by 25%, leading to an all-time low in the blood supply.
“If we don’t receive these blood donations, we can’t ship to hospitals,” said Evelyn Rosado, communications manager at Vitalant in New Mexico. “Doctors have to decide whether to go ahead with the surgery that was scheduled for two months or put it on hold so they can have that blood for emergencies.”
Vitalant serves 900 hospitals in 28 states. Donation shortages in New Mexico are also a problem in the rest of the country, in part due to the rapidly spreading Omicron variant of COVID-19, which is forcing the cancellation of blood donations in the community and reducing the pool of healthy and available donors.
“COVID is a big part of that,” Rosado said. “But there was also a small (donation) drop during the holidays.”
She said donations of every blood type are needed, but there is a critical need for O types, the most commonly transfused type.
Albuquerque hospitals are concerned about the drop in blood donations.
“We currently have adequate blood supplies to meet demand, but ask our providers to use our blood supplies conservatively,” said Dr. Aaron Pritchard, Medical Director of Blood Banks at Lovelace Medical Center, Heart Hospital of New Mexico and Lovelace Women’s Hospital.
University of New Mexico Health Sciences media relations manager Mark Rudi said that like many hospitals in the state and across the country, UNM Hospital is facing a shortage of blood supplies.
“As the state’s only Tier 1 trauma center, blood is critical to treating many of our patients and saving lives,” said Rudi. “UNM Health encourages New Mexicans to help our team and community by donating blood.”
Vitalant offers a special incentive to donate blood. During January, National Blood Donor Month, people who donate blood with Vitalant across the country participate in the $5,000 Big Game Giveaway to win one of four $5,000 prepaid gift cards redeemable via email.