One of the Inland Empire’s largest blood banks is on the verge of completely exhausting its supply of the most commonly utilized blood type for transfusions, prompting calls Monday for blood donors to help prevent the shortage from becoming an all-out emergency that threatens patients’ lives.
“We are down to hours of supply,” LifeStream President Dr. Rick Axelrod said. “What is extremely concerning is we do not have enough `O’ positive blood on our shelves for our local hospitals. We will not be able to meet the needs of local hospital patients if we don’t receive more blood donations from local residents.”
LifeStream provides product to more than 80 hospitals throughout Southern California, not only the inland region.
Axelrod emphasized that O positive is the “most needed blood type because it is the most common blood type.”
“We urge anyone who is healthy, feeling well and able to donate blood to give blood at a LifeStream donor center,” he said. “You are needed now to help friends, family and fellow residents, who require blood products for life-saving treatments.”
Axelrod said that, in addition to the dwindling supplies of O positive blood, there’s a worsening platelet shortage.
“Platelets are extremely important, as they are the clotting agents in our blood,” he said. “When we are cut, platelets are essential to help minimize bleeding. Adults and children with cancer need frequent platelet transfusions as part of their treatment.”
He urged anyone able to donate platelets, especially with `A’ positive, `A’ negative, `B’ positive and `B’ negative blood types, to make a donation as soon as possible.
LifeStream’s donor appointment line is 800-879-4484. Appointments can also be made online via www.LStream.org.
Prospective donors must be at least 15 years old, and anyone under 17 must have parental consent. Mini physical exams will be required before a donation can proceed.
LifeStream has donation centers in Hemet, La Quinta, Murrieta, Rancho Mirage and Riverside. There are additional sites in San Bernardino County, as well as mobile clinics.
Since last fall, LifeStream has been waging a campaign to encourage blood donations as supplies cratered regionally and elsewhere, with hospitals and trauma centers in the most critical need of the life-saving and sustaining product.
The Riverside University Medical Center joined the campaign in January, when hospital spokesman Dr. Michael Mesisca told the Board of Supervisors that, without a “major storage or reserve” of blood, patients’ lives were at risk.