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News
01/14/2013
Public asked to donate blood to help end critical shortage

For immediate release: Jan. 14, 2013

Contact:
Gary Kimsey, 970.495.7427, glk@pvhs.org

Public asked to donate blood to help end critical shortage

The Garth Englund Blood Center is calling on the public in northern Colorado to help end a critical shortage of blood needed for surgical and blood transfusion patients at Poudre Valley Hospital and Medical Center of the Rockies.

Blood donations typically drop off during the holidays and pick up in early January. This year, however, the number of donations has yet to increase. Employees of PVH, MCR and other University of Colorado Health services in northern Colorado donated during the holidays to help fend off shortages. 

“Now we’re calling on everyone in the community to help at this critical time,” said Mandi Bornhoeft, Garth Englund manager. “Many community members have been avid donors, but we need more people to join in this important way to help others in our community.”

Phlebotomist Alyssa Sweazy sets up a blood draw for Fort Collins resident Ed Miller.

Garth Englund Blood Center, which is part of UCHealth, annually receives about 9,700 donated pints, the common term used to describe a unit of blood for transfusion. A pint is the amount a person can donate once every 56 days.

However, more than 12,000 units a year are needed. This required the center to purchase blood from other blood centers. The cost ranges from $280 for a pint of red blood cells to $690 for platelets.

Bornhoeft said local shortages usually happen several times during a year. “Maintaining an adequate supply of blood is getting tougher every year,” she said.

Bornhoeft said blood shortages in northern Colorado often result from local and national influences:

  • An ongoing shortage of blood donors began in the late 1990s as the numbers of the population group most committed to donating blood—World War II veterans—began dwindling rapidly due to death.
  • Another national trend reflected locally is the fact that some patients are sicker now when they enter a hospital than in previous times. This can translate into the need for more blood for patient care.
  • The northern Colorado population continues to expand, resulting in more surgical cases where blood is needed. Coupled with this is the fact that both PVH and MCR are designated trauma centers—PVH, Level III; MCR, Level II—and this causes the need for more blood supplies for emergency cases.
  • The number of specialized physicians in northern Colorado has increased in recent years. This has meant more sophisticated surgeries are performed, requiring more blood.

Bornhoeft said the Garth Englund center has responded aggressively to fill in the gaps between shortages and needs. “Rather than making the consumer come to us, we’ve tried to make it easy by going to them,” she pointed out.

In addition to taking blood donations at Garth Englund in Fort Collins and Loveland, the center conducted 95 mobile blood drives in 2012, going on-site at local businesses, high schools and public events. The center also relies on its 37-foot bloodmobile to conduct mobile blood drives.

How to donate:

Appointments to donate blood can be made by calling the center in Fort Collins, 495.8965, or its location in Loveland, 624.1550.

It’s also possible to make appointments online: pvhs.org/bloodcenter.

Walk-in donors are also welcomed. In Loveland, the Garth Englund center is located in MCR; in Fort Collins, 1025 Pennock Place, Suite 104, two blocks north of PVH.

All blood types are needed. The most critical needs are for O Positive and O Negative.

To donate, a person must be at least 18 years old, or 17 with a parent's permission, and show a photo identification. New donors must weigh at least 120 pounds and be in good health. Prior donors must weight at least 110 pounds.

For other regulations, hours and information about the donation process, go to pvhs.org/bloodcenter.

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