Arkansas Blood Institute is losing hundreds of units of Type O-negative blood, the only universal blood type, a month due to recent blood bag shortages.
Specialized bags are required to safely draw "double dose units" of blood from larger-sized donors. Without this option, ABI is struggling to collect enough O-negative blood, and more donors must be recruited to make up for the lost production, a news release said.
Due to its universality, O-negative blood is by far the most in-demand type used by area hospitals and this issue could quickly impact area hospitals' transfusions of trauma victims, premature babies and sickle cell disease patients unless more O-negative donors step up now to donate blood, it said.
"Sufficient O-negative donations are a daily requirement for our mission," Dr. John Armitage, ABI president/CEO, said in the release. "When we don't have the specialty bags we need to draw our doubly effective donations, we put both emergency and routine response capabilities at risk."
These supply chain issues have only increased an already difficult situation as ABI enters the holidays.
"Donation rates around the holidays are typically lower, and we're fighting with a hand tied behind our back," Armitage said.
"Sadly, the supply chain foul ups aren't likely to get better anytime soon. From the last couple of years, we have all learned that broken manufacturing and delivery pipelines are never good, but in the blood world they aren't just frustrating, they put lives and patient care at risk," he said.
To get the O-negative blood supply back "in a healthy range," ABI needs more members of the community to respond by giving blood today, the release said.
Individuals 16 and older can give blood. Appointments can be made by calling 877-340-8777 or visiting http://www.arkbi.org. Blood donation typically takes only about an hour, and one donation saves up to three lives.
The nonprofit blood supplier supports the inventory for patients in more than 40 hospitals, medical facilities and air ambulances statewide, including Garland County.