The only blood supplier to hospitals in the region is facing a national shortage of blood.
Vitalant, the nonprofit that supplies Mercy Regional Medical Center, currently has less than a day and a half of certain types of blood, such as forms of Type O, to serve hospitals nationally, said Kristan Velarde, senior donor recruitment representative. Vitalant often ships blood around the country and region to fill demand, but currently, it doesn’t have enough supplies to meet all the needs, she said.
The critical shortage could force doctors to postpone surgeries and other procedures to preserve blood for those in life-threatening situations, she said.
The local shortage is part of a national trend typically seen shortly after the holidays, she said. In December, far fewer people donate blood because they are busy with holiday obligations or traveling. At the same time, the number of accidents increases during December and the demand for blood spikes, she said.
“There is not even blood out there for us to purchase,” she said.
Regional hospitals are aware of Vitalant’s shortage, and Pagosa Springs Medical Center is working with the nonprofit on a blood drive, Velarde said. Mercy did not immediately respond to request for comment Thursday about the shortage.
Other community organizations are also working on blood drives.
Durango Motor Co. will host a blood drive Tuesday, and Allen Theatres will host a drive Jan. 24, Velarde said.
Vitalant also accepts donations at its offices near the Durango Public Library at 1970 East Third Ave, she said.
The nonprofit does not pay for donations, Velarde said. That is because paid blood donations cannot be used in hospitals, which could incentivize donors to lie about their health, she said.
Velarde expects blood supplies to increase in the coming weeks as awareness about the problem spreads. If the region donates a surplus, it will be shared with other areas in need, she said.