Jan 17, 2023 - News

Arizona is experiencing an extreme blood shortage and needs donors

Illustration of a pattern of repeating blood droplets, but all are only outlined except for one.

Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

Arizona's blood supply is at its lowest level in a year, and Valley hospitals are desperate for donors.

Why it matters: If hospitals don't have enough blood, doctors may have to delay surgeries or choose which patients need it the most.

State of play: Several compounding factors have made January one of the worst months for the state's blood supply, Vitalant's Sue Thew tells us. Vitalant is the sole blood provider for all Valley hospitals and 90% of hospitals across Arizona.

  • The nine-day stretch between Christmas Eve and New Year's Day is the slowest time of the year for blood drives, with many companies shutting down or employees taking vacation.
  • The lowest donor period is followed by the busiest month of the year. Many people choose to put off necessary surgeries until after the holidays, making the start of the year popular for procedures. Additionally, our population is at its highest right now because of winter visitors.

The big picture: Vitalant is seeing 20% fewer donations than before the pandemic, Thew tells us.

  • With so many businesses and organizations still remote, fewer are hosting blood drives, which account for more than half of all donations.
  • Across the country, the organization is seeing 90,000 fewer donations per year than before the pandemic.

By the numbers: Vitalant needs 600 people to donate every day to supply all 62 hospitals it serves in Arizona.

How to help: They have seven locations across metro Phoenix and posts details about public blood drives on their website.

  • People with O blood types are particularly needed. O negative is the universal blood type and O positive can be donated to anyone with a positive blood type, which is 80% of people.

1 big drive: Uptown Plaza is hosting a blood drive on Saturday from 9am to 1pm in the Vitalant bloodmobile trailer near Applebee's on Central Avenue. The first 50 donors will get a coupon for a free shake at nearby Shake Shack.

Of note: People who donate through Friday can enter to win tickets to the Super Bowl.

  • And donors through the end of the month will get a free ticket to the Renaissance Festival.

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