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Memorial Blood Centers calls for donations and employees during summer lull

Today is World Blood Donor day and this year it falls as blood banks say they're in urgent need of donations.

ST PAUL, Minn. — Memorial Blood Centers usually emphasizes the need for type-O and any of the negative blood types. Right now though, all types are urgently needed. In fact, the collection center declared an emergency leading into summer.

"We need to collect about 2,100 units of blood a week," community relations manager Phil Losacker said. "Several of the last few weeks, we've been running at about 1,500 units of blood a week."

Losacker says that means their inventory only lasts one or two days.

"We generally like to have a 5-7 day or 7-9 day supply of blood on hand to serve our community hospitals," he said.

They also need to collect 350 units of platelets per week but have only been getting around 300. Platelets can be donated more frequently than blood. 

The donation shortage isn't the only problem. Memorial Blood Centers also need phlebotomists, which are employees who draw blood.

"We have an extensive 8-week clinical and classroom training program that is the first 8 weeks of someone's employment," Losacker said. "Patients need blood every day so the challenges of managing that supply and who gets what, we can't afford people to go without blood. It's critical to many, many treatments."

The pandemic-induced worker shortage means donors need to make an appointment before arrival.

The American Red Cross says it's currently not in an emergency situation but says it typically sees a decline in donations in early summer. The Red Cross says those who come to give blood, platelets or plasma June 1-30, 2022, will be automatically entered for a chance to win a VIP trip to Memphis and Graceland for two, plus a $5 e-gift card to a merchant of choice. June 30-July 10, donors will receive an exclusive Red Cross recycled tote bag while supplies last.

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