The winter weather system that hit Oklahoma has impacted the blood supply and Our Blood Institute (OBI) is working to rebuild the supplies as fast as possible.
Inclement condition caused blood donors to begin canceling appointments and delay blood drives forcing already struggling supplies to critical levels, according to Jacklyn Chappell, spokesperson. The blood shortage has the potential to impact hospitals and patients in need.
As of Tuesday, OBI has a one-to-two-day supply of blood, which is well below the safe stock level, Chappell said. That’s’ why the OBI is asking donors to reschedule appointments and come in to donate as soon as possible.
Lawton OBI Executive Director Christi Chambers said the local chapter is doing its part in partnership with Texas Roadhouse to raise the blood supply and celebrate Dolly Parton with “Happy Dolly Days!”
“We will be celebrating all week with cupcakes and Texas Roadhouse rolls,” she said. “If you want a chance to win a dinner for two at Texas Roadhouse, come donate blood and you will be entered into the daily drawing.”
Donors who come in to the OBI, 211 SW A, on Wednesday will be serenaded by Dani Carson from 1 to 4 p.m. On Thursday, write a birthday note to Dolly Parton on her birthday and they will be mailed to her. Finally, if you have your favorite Dolly Parton shirt, wear it Friday. Donations are taken daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
It’s all for a good cause and one in dire need after the OBI has been sending out more blood to hospitals than it’s taking in from donors. If this continues, it could impact treatments for cancer, scheduling of surgeries, and transfusions of all types, according to Chappell. OBI is not alone in this blood deficit. In the last few weeks, other blood providers across the nation also have declared emergency blood shortages.
The OBI is the primary blood supplier for the state of Oklahoma, exclusively servicing more than 95 percent of Oklahoma’s hospitals, medical facilities, and air ambulances, including other local health systems as Saint Francis, OU Health, SSM St. Anthony, Integris Health, and Mercy, according to a press release.
“January is always a difficult time, as blood donations are typically slow during the holidays and in the weeks following, and the winter weather is magnifying the problem,” Dr. John Armitage, Our Blood Institute president and CEO, said in a statement. “Since the start of the year, blood donations are lagging significantly and fewer people are donating. We urgently ask the public to step up and help secure their community blood supply.”
Successful donors will receive a short-sleeved, glow-in-the-dark “When I’m Not Hibernating, I’m Donating Blood” T-shirt.
Blood can be donated every 56 days. Platelets can be donated as often as every seven days, up to 24 times a year, according to a press release.
“Blood has no substitute,” Armitage said. “Patients across the state rely on blood products to fight cancer, survive trauma and heal after childbirth. Blood donation takes about an hour and can save up to three lives.”
Anyone who is healthy and 16 years old or older can give blood. Appointments to donate can be made online at obi.org or by calling 877-340-8777. Walk-ins are also welcome. Photo identification is required.