Donations are sought by two of the largest blood services providers in the Northwest, and an ongoing supply is vital for trauma care.
“Blood is needed for almost every operation that I do,” said Dr. Sam Arbabi, a trauma and burn surgeon at Harborview Medical Center, the region’s only Level 1 Trauma Center. “Over the last 10 to 20 years, the number of traumas has increased significantly. We used to have 2,000 to 3,000 trauma admissions a year, and now we have 6,000 to 6,500. In part, that's because of our growing numbers in our Seattle metropolitan (area).”
Bloodworks Northwest is currently in a Code Red Emergency Blood Shortage, which it declares after at least four consecutive days of very low levels. The organization blames winter storms during the holiday season for a significant drop in donations. Similarly, the American Red Cross is hoping to drive new donations after severe winter weather across the country caused hundreds of blood drives to be canceled. More than 10,000 units of blood and platelets have not been collected.
Arbabi says the COVID-19 pandemic has also contributed to the depletion of blood supply during the past three years, though the essence of donors' gifts has not changed.
“Every time you give blood, no matter who you are and what type of blood you have, you should think that you are saving a life,” said Arbabi, a professor of surgery at the University of Washington School of Medicine.