Blood donations ‘urgently needed’ ahead of Labor Day, Washington officials say

By: - August 26, 2023 9:00 am

Blood donations are collected in Seattle in 2020. (Photo by Karen Ducey/Getty Images)

Blood donations are on the cusp of running critically low in Washington before the end of summer if people don’t step up donations, according to the state Department of Health and Northwest Blood Coalition.

“Our collections are certainly in a situation you would call precarious,” said Curt Bailey, Bloodworks Northwest president and CEO. 

The Red Cross’s Pacific Northwest Region does not expect to have enough blood to meet patient needs this month without an increase in donations, according to a Thursday release from the state Department of Health. Wildfire smoke resulted in several canceled blood drives, exacerbating the problem. 

Fewer donations make it difficult to keep hospital shelves stocked with lifesaving blood products. Trauma patients, transplant recipients, and those undergoing cancer treatment depend on the generosity of blood donors,” a release from the state Department of Health said. 

Nationally, the American Red Cross has seen a shortfall of around 25,000 donations during the first two months of summer. Some blood donation services characterize the summer months as the “100 Deadliest Days.” According to the state Department of Health, between Memorial Day in late May and Labor Day in early September, “demand for blood remains constant, transfusion needs increase, but donations go down.” 

Donor eligibility guidelines were recently updated nationwide. In May, the Food and Drug Administration removed blanket restrictions on blood donations from gay and bisexual men. 

The Northwest Blood Coalition includes Vitalant, Cascade Regional Blood Services, Bloodworks Northwest, and the American Red Cross  Pacific Northwest Region. Find locations and donor eligibility information on their websites.

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Grace Deng
Grace Deng

Grace Deng joined the Washington State Standard shortly after graduating from Northwestern University in June 2023. Grace, who currently lives in Tacoma, is a local Washingtonian who was born and raised in Snohomish County. She has previous experience covering statehouse politics and policy for the Minnesota Reformer and the USA TODAY Ohio Network, which includes the Columbus Dispatch, the Cincinnati Enquirer and the Akron-Beacon Journal.