UCHealth asks for blood donations to prevent seasonal shortage

Samantha Ye

Summer in Fort Collins means hiking, trips to the pool and students returning home for break, but this also causes a lull in blood donations, which can lead to a shortage of much-needed blood supplies.

Facing low blood supplies in northern Colorado, officials at UCHealth Garth Englund Blood Centers are asking both regulars and those who have never donated blood to help prevent a shortage.

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The dip in donors happens every summer as travel and other summertime activities disrupt people’s regular donation schedules said Kelly Tracer, UCHealth media relations specialist.

However, need for supplies actually increases this time of year since there is an uptick in trauma cases, which demand more blood transfusions, Tracer said.  

An exam chair in the transfusion room of new CSU Health and Medical Center
Blood transfusion rooms make it easier for patients to recieve medicine and treatments that must be done through the viens rather than oral methods. Photo by Olive Ancell | Collegian

In a press release from UCHealth, Fort Collins resident Linda Maher shared her first-hand experience with the importance of blood donations. In November 2015, she suffered life-threatening injuries in a car crash, resulting in her needing 22 units of blood and platelets as surgeons repaired her bladder, kidneys, stomach, intestines and pelvis at UCHealth Medical Center of the Rockies in Loveland.

“You just never know when it could be you,” she said in the release. “And you take for granted that there will always be a supply, but that’s not the real truth.”

The centers especially need donors with A negative and O negative blood types due to their rarity, according to UCHealth. Supervisor at the blood donor centers Larisa Maristany wrote in the press release that UCHealth needs donations of all blood types, however.

Donors must be at least 18 years old, or  17 with a parent’s permission, and will be asked to show photo identification. New donors must weigh at least 120 pounds and be in good health, while prior donors must weigh at least 110 pounds. Whole blood donations take 30-40 minutes and platelet donations take anywhere from 45-110 minutes, according to the release.

What to expect when donating blood, according to UCHealth.

  • You will complete health history and consent forms, providing information about medicines you take and behavior that is considered a risk for HIV or hepatitis exposure.
  • Staff will take your temperature and blood pressure and do a finger-stick test called a hematocrit to check the volume of your red blood cells.
  • After your arm is cleaned with a disinfectant swab, a needle will be inserted into a vein on the inside of your elbow.
  • The actual blood donation takes five to 10 minutes.
  • After the donation, you will rest for a short time afterwards and will recieve a snack before you leave.
  • You can give blood once every eight weeks!

Interested donors can call 970-680-8053 to schedule an appointment at either of Garth Englund’s northern Colorado blood donor centers–the center at 1025 Pennock Place in Fort Collins or the center at MCR, 2500 Rocky Mountain Ave., in Loveland.

Additional information about eligibility requirements, the donation process and donation center hours can be found on the UCHealth website

Collegian reporter Samantha Ye can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @samxye4.