DeKALB – Versiti Blood Center of Illinois, the largest in the Midwest, says it needs to collect 1,100 donations over the next week in order to meet hospital and patient needs.
Amy Smith, area vice president for Versiti Blood Center of Illinois and director of donor services operations, said if the quota for blood donations isn’t met, the organization will be forced to work with Versiti Blood Center’s in other states, despite the company’s desire to use blood donations from area communities.
“We want the communities to be self serving for what we do, and if not we’ll have to offset and try to collect in our other states and see if those communities can help not only supply the state that they’re in, but then help Illinois as well,” said Smith.
Dr. Kevin Ha, associate medical director for Versiti Blood Center of Illinois, said if the 1,100 donations aren’t fulfilled the center would be forced to closely examine what blood products it has on its shelves and what area hospitals are asking for.
“At a certain point, you know, if we don’t have anything on our shelves to give them, we wouldn’t be able to provide blood products to that hospital that may have a patient who needs it,” said Ha. “So if it doesn’t come to that point, that is the big fear that could occur, when we do get a big blood shortage.”
Smith said Versiti’s Illinois center supplies blood to over 65% of hospitals in the Chicagoland area. She said the company has had difficulties maintaining the necessary number of blood donations as the pandemic’s grip over society has waned, spurring more people to return to travel.
“So they’re out and about with their families, going on those vacations that they haven’t done in the last two years, so blood donation [is] just not at the top of their mind,” said Smith.
Smith said people had time on their hands during the first two years of the pandemic, which allowed people to come in and donate blood, but that has changed over the past 12 months.
“Our lives were, you know, the easiest that I’ve had in the 25 years that I’ve been here to recruit blood donors,” said Smith. “We’re back to the difficulty now.”
To incentivize people to donate blood, Smith said the center is holding a raffle to win a Yamaha power sport vehicle for all donors who give blood between Aug. 10 and the end of the month. Versiti, which has a donation center at 2428 Sycamore Road in DeKalb, will have five winners for the raffle, one in each state the organization has a center in.
Smith said the blood supplies aren’t at as critical levels as they’ve been at points earlier in the year, but that means now is the time to act.
“Never want to be in a situation where we would have to tell hospitals, that we would need to worry about reducing elective surgeries,” said Smith. “We take pride in the fact that we can ensure that we have blood for those patients anytime that they need it.”