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South Dakotans Asked to Donate Blood for Regional Shortage

Cancer patients are high on the list of needed blood donations as South Dakota supplies fall short. (
Cancer patients are high on the list of needed blood donations as South Dakota supplies fall short. (
January 25, 2018

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — The weather and widespread flu outbreaks have created a shortage of blood supplies in South Dakota, Iowa and Nebraska.

LifeServe, a nonprofit community blood center that serves the region, says December and January are typically the worst months for blood donations.

But LifeServe spokeswoman Danielle West says weather exacerbated the shortage by forcing the cancellation of blood drives and the two-day closure of a blood center in southwest Iowa.

"We like to have a three- to five-day supply on our shelves, just in case the hospitals need it and to fulfill their daily needs," she explains, "and we're really at a one-day or less supply of most blood types."

West says the agency provides blood products to 120 hospitals across the region and adds that donations are needed of all blood types, but a few types in particular are more urgently sought.

While many people associate giving blood with a natural disaster, West she notes that cancer patients who need blood transfusions following chemotherapy are the primary recipients.

"So, they are the number-one recipients – burn victims, trauma victims, anyone who's a having surgery, that's where the majority of the blood we collect goes to at the hospitals," she adds.

West adds that donating a single pint of blood can save the lives of as many as three hospital patients.

She says people may think because they're taking medication or have traveled overseas they're not eligible to donate blood, but that's often not the case.

"If you're 18 and older at least 120 pounds, feeling well and healthy that day come on in and give it a try, we will tell you if you're not eligible based on travel or medication, but we hate for people to assume some of those things because they change so frequently," she states.

Nationwide, the Red Cross reports that 550 blood drives were canceled in January, severely affecting the more-than 13,000 blood and platelet donations needed each day.

Roz Brown, Public News Service - SD