Nebraska Community Blood Bank issues fourth blood emergency of the year

The Nebraska Community Blood Bank has declared a blood emergency.
Published: Oct. 21, 2022 at 6:38 PM CDT|Updated: Oct. 21, 2022 at 6:39 PM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - Every two seconds someone in our state needs blood. Once again, the Nebraska Community Blood Bank has declared a blood emergency. That means they have just three days of blood on hand, they prefer to have a seven-day supply of blood. This emergency comes on top of the typical dip in donations this time of year.

The NCBB needs over 1,000 donors every single week, whether that’s at one of their locations or mobile drives. Currently they are struggling to meet that demand. They are calling on anyone willing and able to consider donation.

The blood emergency is the fourth of 2022. This is due in part because of a decrease in donations coming from first-time donors, such as high schoolers. That demographic of donors is down 47%, according to NCBB. Before the pandemic those high school blood drives were held in gyms offering more space. Now, they are on mobile donation buses that decrease the capacity.

NCBB is also seeing staff shortages in key positions. They are in need of workers to draw blood, as lab workers and bus drivers to drive to mobile donation sites. These new issues are amplifying a problem they always see in fall and winter.

“That’s because it’s the cold and flu season, and so that might make people not be able to donate as often as they want to,” Kari Lundeen with NCBB said. “With holidays always coming around, people are just really busy and even though the need for blood doesn’t take a vacation or a holiday, we still continue to need people to come in and help supply the blood.”

They don’t just need red blood cell donations, but also platelet donations. Those donations go to help burn patients and people fighting cancer, and get used up right away. They are used seven days after donation. This blood helps out all sorts of people, from newborn babies, laboring mothers and cancer patients and more.

NCBB said that despite the shortage, no patient in critical need of blood has gone without that blood for their treatment or survival. But they rely on donors to help keep the blood supply replenished. Everyone has their own motivations for giving.

Carla Johnsen has been donating since she was in high school.

“I donate mostly because I have various loved ones who have died of cancer and almost all of them have gotten blood treatment here and there,” Johnsen said. “I watch how much healthier they are after they received their blood.”

Kevan Dragoo began donating blood 25 years ago. When he found out he was eligible to donate platelets, which requires on average a two-hour time commitment, he started doing so to help those in need.

“It just seems like the thing to do, if people need them and I have the time, then I have no issue doing it,” Dragoo said. “It’s for the good of other people and it saves their lives.”

There are some eligibility requirements for those considering donating. You must be 17 or older, symptom free for at least 72 hours following a cold or flu and free of antibiotics for 24 hours. For a full list you can visit the Nebraska Community Blood Bank website, here.