Arkansas Blood Institute made an immediate appeal for blood donors Friday, saying winter weather threatens to cripple a blood supply already severely strained by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a news release.
ABI currently faces less than a one-day supply of blood, which is insufficient to ensure disaster preparedness or serve patients who depend on transfusions to survive, the release said.
"It's hard to underscore how damaging the one-two punch of COVID and ongoing winter weather has been. It's unprecedented," Dr. John Armitage, president and CEO of Arkansas Blood Institute, said in the release.
Blood Emergency Heroes who give blood now through Thursday will be entered into a daily drawing for a $2,000 prize, the release said, with one winner drawn each day.
In addition, all blood donors who give during this period will be entered for a chance to win a brand-new car, the winner of which will be announced at a later date.
Donors of all blood types are urged to give at their nearest donor center or mobile blood drive. Donor centers will be open for extended hours to provide more opportunity for donors to give.
Extended hours include 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. today and 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday, the release said.
Individuals who receive the most common COVID-19 vaccines, Pfizer and Moderna, are eligible to donate blood and platelets with no waiting time, ABI said in a separate release.
"The health of our donors is an integral part of our lifesaving mission," Armitage said. "As more Arkansans are vaccinated, it is important for them to know they're eligible to give blood and platelets, even the same day they receive their vaccination."
"As the pandemic persists, the impact on the community blood supply continues as well -- so we urge healthy adults, age 16 and up, to make blood donation a priority," he said.