Nationwide Blood Shortage Experienced in Mesa County
KREX News Room
MESA COUNTY, Colo.- Mesa County and the entire nation are on the hunt for blood.
Jill Breman, a donor recruiter at St. Mary's Hospital, said, “In the summer everyone is busy on vacation and they’re not thinking about donating blood, but the need for blood does not take a vacation.”
As the regional blood supplier, many hospitals rely on supplies from St. Mary’s. “We supply all the hospitals along I-70 and down in Aspen, Telluride,” Breman said.
The type of blood most commonly sought by blood banks, a type that's lacking in Mesa County, is type O negative.
“It’s the universal donor, so when you see that helicopter go out for
emergencies and there’s a surgery and they don’t know someone’s blood type, they’re going to use O negative. Babies can only be transfused with O negative blood," said Breman.
One volunteer, Barbara Elliott, donates time and time again. The former medical technologist says she understands the need for blood. “Accidents, people with ulcers, mothers who’ve delivered and bleed, a lot of cancers, burn victims," she said.
Elliot now donates through a process called apheresis. It takes about an hour. However, the special process allows the blood to go to cancer patients.
Many of the donors who come to St. Mary’s are regular donors, and some have been donating for decades.
Andy Thomson has donated blood for more than 20 years and said, “One of those few things I’m really good at.”
“For me, it’s an easy way to give back,” said Ruth Maurer, who is also a regular donor.
“It takes a half hour of your life to save a life,” Breman said.
Regular donors say it is a quick and relatively painless process, as well as a rewarding one that keeps them coming right back.
During July, all blood donors will receive a free cholesterol scan. In August, donors will receive a pint of ice cream in exchange for a pint of blood.
No appointment is required to donate blood.