Type O blood shortage reported

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By Randi Pierce
Staff Writer

There continues to be a shortage of Type O blood available across the nation.

According to a notice sent to Pagosa Springs Medical Center by Vitalant, a nonprofit blood services provider, Vitalant “continues to experience national inventory pressure on our O red blood cells (RBCs) as well as platelet products. In particular, Type O-negative RBCs are becoming increasingly constrained.”

The notice indicates that while a number of factors are contributing to the reduced inventory, “continued blood drive cancellations forced by COVID-19 precautions and the resulting uncollected donations is the leading cause.

Vitalant indicates in the notice that group O RBCs are at Level 2 for inventory management practices, meaning Vitalant is “well below normal inventory levels and cannot immediately fill stock orders.”

Level 2 also means hospitals have reduced levels in inventory, according to the notice.

As Vitalant’s website explains, “Human blood falls into four different blood groups: A, B, AB and O. Your blood also has what is known as an Rh factor: It either contains a certain protein or it doesn’t. (This is the positive [+] or negative [-] after your blood type.) The possible combinations create eight different blood types: A+, A-, B+, B-, AB+, AB-, O+ and O-.”

It further explains, “O-negative is the universal red cell donor, which means O-negative whole blood can be transfused into all blood types. O-negative is the most in-demand blood type because it can be used in emergency and other situations where the patient’s blood type is unknown.”

The website notes 9 percent of the population is estimated to be O-negative.

Those interested in donating blood do not need to know their blood type, the website indicates, and can learn it through the donation process.

Vitalant is planning a blood drive in Pagosa Springs from 2 to 5:30 p.m. on Oct. 21 at CrossRoad Christian Fellowship.

More are planned for November.

To make an appointment or for additional information about blood drives, blood donation and eligibility, visit: https://www.vitalant.org/.

randi@pagosasun.com