Blood supply drops to emergency levels; donors needed

Bloodworks Northwest issued an urgent appeal for donors today after supplies fell to emergency levels – a one-day supply or less.

Normal inventory is a four-day supply. For the safety and care of patients, Bloodworks has issued a “code-red” alert – urging blood donations now and through the next two weeks.

“In the aftermath of the heat wave our inventories have fallen by nearly 25 percent,” said James P. AuBuchon, MD, president and CEO of Bloodworks. “Prolonged high temperatures and poor air quality kept donors at home, and for many blood types we are now looking at empty shelves.” (media: photos attached)

“With the solar eclipse on Monday and with up to 1 million people converging on Oregon and Southwest Washington, we need to be ready,” AuBuchon noted. “Responding to emergencies requires blood that is already collected, tested, on the shelves and ready for immediate use.” Only a four-day inventory allows us to respond immediately to emergencies, or to a dramatic increase in needs from local patients.

Type O – which is the most common blood type in the Northwest – is being shipped to hospitals almost as soon as it is collected. People receiving emergency room care have also made extra demands on the tight supply.

“All regions of the US are currently experiencing a shortage, so assistance from other centers is minimal,” AuBuchon said. “We’re relying on local donors to help us respond to this emergency.”

Bloodworks is asking donors who have not donated recently to schedule an appointment as soon as possible at one of its 12 centers. There is a special need for Type O blood and for platelets, but all donors are needed.

Donors can schedule an appointment at any donor center by going online at or by calling 1-800-398-7888. People can also can check online at to find dates and times of mobile drives close to where they live or work.

Blood collections usually fall by 15-20 percent during summer – with schools and colleges on break and donors on vacation. But the need for blood is often higher in summer from patients undergoing surgeries, ERs treating trauma victims, people having cancer treatment and surgeons performing organ transplants. It takes about 800 donors a day to maintain a sufficient supply for the nearly 100 Northwest hospitals served by Bloodworks.