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Blood centers call on donors after issuing third emergency in six months

Memorial Blood Centers says it only has up to a three day supply to service 41 hospitals.

ST PAUL, Minn. — ST. PAUL, Minn. — People are not donating blood like they used to. In fact, there are so few donations on hand, Memorial Blood Centers (MBC) is issuing its third emergency in just six months. 

Chris Moon is a longtime blood donor - a habit most anyone can do up to four times a year. 

"It's been almost 30 years," said Moon. "It's like maybe an hour out of your day, every two months, and you get cookies afterwards."

MBC Community Relations Manager Phil Losacker says the crisis has persisted since the pandemic.

"It's been at a low point for a few months now, for several months, which we haven't seen in the 19 years that's I've worked here," said Losacker. 

There's usually up to a nine day supply on hand to serve 41 hospitals across Minnesota and western Wisconsin. But now, it's at just two to three days.

"Blood is needed for many, many procedures or situations that happen at the hospital whether that's for cancer patients, for child birth related issues and, of course, for emergency situations, as well," said Losacker.

Losacker says more people are working from home, meaning fewer corporate and school blood drives and a decrease in first-time donors. That's on top of staffing shortages that dictate how long donor centers can stay open and where.

It's all been leading to hard times at MBC, despite a procedure that's actually very easy to do.

"You're helping the community, you can help save or sustain somebody's life," said Losacker. "It's pretty simple."

Blood is also perishable, so it can't be stockpiled. In fact, it only has a shelf life of about 42 days.

Besides Memorial Blood Centers, the Red Cross is also in short supply of blood, particularly type O. Each day, the Red Cross needs to collect about 12,500 blood donations to meet the needs of patients at about 2,500 hospitals and other facilities across the country.

To make an appointment, you can use the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visit RedCrossBlood.org or call 1- 800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).

For more information about donating to Memorial Blood Centers, you can call 1.888.GIVE.BLD (1.888.448.3253) or visit mbc.org

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