At the beginning of the summer travel season, LifeSouth Community Blood Centers remain in need of donations, especially of O-positive blood.
Laura Bialeck, LifeSouth’s district community development coordinator, said Tuesday that the blood bank has a backorder of 64 units of O-positive blood for local hospitals that they are unable to fill at this point. There’s a 23-unit backorder of O-negative and a smaller backorder of A-positive blood.
LifeSouth supplies 100% of the blood to all the hospitals in North Central Florida, Bialeck said.
“The O-positive backorders are growing daily,” Bialeck said. “We’re not keeping up with our O-type blood.”
According to the American Red Cross, O positive is the most common blood type, occuring in about 38% of the U.S. population, plus it can be given to approximately 80% of the population who have a positive blood type.
Nationally and locally, the supply of blood has been short for months, Bialeck said.
The America’s Blood Centers organization estimates that this week two-thirds of blood centers in the South have a two-day supply or less. Centers with a three-day or more supply of blood are considered to have enough for normal operation.
Donated whole blood is given to trauma patients and transplant patients as well as people undergoing planned surgeries. Platelets and plasma from donated blood is used to treat cancer and burn patients.
Bialeck said the local supply has been affected by an increase in elective surgeries and transplant surgeries and by a decrease in business-based donation events.
While LifeSouth’s mobile units have continued to operate, the increase in people working from home during the pandemic has meant the blood bank has done fewer donation events at local businesses.
Bialeck said while business-based events have increased as people return to in-person work, other business events remain on hold and may possibly never to return.
“There’s a certain percentage of our business blood drives that we are used to going to four times a year that we may never get back,” Bialeck said.
The loss of some business-based donations has made other mobile events – and regular donation center giving – even more important, Bialeck said.
Upcoming LifeSouth mobile events include donation opportunities at the Cobblestone Apartments, UF’s Ben Hill Griffin’s Stadium, and Ward’s Supermarket.
A DJs Unite to Support LifeSouth blood drive is scheduled for Saturday at LifeSouth centers and mobile units in Gainesville, Alachua, Jonesville and Lake City. The second annual event featuring area radio DJs is seeking to collect donations from 100 people, organizers said.
Donors must be 17 years or older, or 16 with parental permission, and have a photo identification. Donors should be in good health and weigh a minimum of 110 pounds.