Blood donors needed |

Blood donors needed

While blood supplies are at critically low levels around parts of the state and country, the local supply is adequate. But that doesn’t mean people should stop donating, blood bank organizers say.

“Once our local hospitals are taken care of, we share blood where it is needed,” said Leslie Botos, public affairs director for BloodSource, which supplies blood to more than 40 hospitals in central and Northern California, including Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital.

Currently, that need is great. Much of the nation has less than a two-day supply of blood on hand, according to the American Red Cross. Botos said that in the Bay Area, elective surgeries have been postponed because of shortages.

“It’s been the hardest November, December and January we’ve ever had,” Botos said.

The blood inventory continues to drop because of a number of contributing factors, including holiday travel, breaks from school and bad weather conditions in the west. BloodSource supplies blood to hospitals from Merced to the Oregon border in the south and north and from Vacaville to South Lake Tahoe in the west and east.

Botos said storms that hit California and associated power outages around the end of December caused several of BloodSource’s offices to close for a number of days. A harsh flu season also is playing havoc on donations, she said.

“If you’re sick, you can’t donate,” Botos said. “When supplies start falling short, it’s like dominoes.”

The blood collected at the BloodSource office on Sutton Way in Grass Valley is shipped to the organization’s main lab in Sacramento. Then, depending on the amount and types needed locally, blood is shipped back.

“We collect what we anticipate, plus a little more,” Botos said.

Extra supplies are sent to blood banks in need. That is why it is crucial for people to donate blood even when local supplies are adequate.

“We are very fortunate that we have never had to ask any of our hospitals to curtail surgeries,” Botos said. “The donors in the Grass Valley area are incredibly generous. We need donors everyday. We can never allow ourselves to live in a community where surgeries are canceled.”

To donate, people must be healthy, be at least 17 years old and weigh at least 110 pounds; a health questionnaire filled out at the blood bank will assess other qualifications. Qualified donors can give blood once every 56 days.

For more information contact:

– Blood Source in Grass Valley 477-1683

– American Association of Blood Banks 1-866-FROM-YOU

– America’s Blood Centers 1-888-USBLOOD

– American Red Cross 1-800-GIVE-LIFE

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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