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Denver Faces Blood donation Shortage

Photo: Aman Tewolde · The Sentry

Less than half of required blood received

During the season of New Year’s resolutions, Vitalant, a nonprofit organization that focuses on blood donations, suggested one for Colorado residents in a tweet on December 31: “Become a consistent blood donor! The need for blood donors is 24/7/365 (366 in 2020!).” Colorado is experiencing a critical shortage in platelets and blood, type-O specifically, sharing a call to action for people to donate on a scheduled basis to help fellow community members through medical procedures. 

According to an article by Alexander Kirk at 9 News, Vitalant anticipated 21,000 more donations than they received at the end of 2019. In the same article, the Chief Medical Officer at Vitalant, Dr. Ralph Vassallo, said the organization tries to store enough blood to last four days but has “less than half that for certain blood types,” especially since the desperately needed materials can be preserved for only five days, as the article emphasizes.  

Haven Himmighoefer, a biochemistry major, is unable to donate blood herself because she lived in Germany for more than five years between 1980 and the present. According to her, the fear of her blood being contaminated by Mad Cow disease has caused her to be turned away by blood drives.  

She brought attention to the lack of donors across the nation after doing her own research on the LGBTQ+ Donors page on The American Red Cross website. Himmighoefer pointed out that “only 38 percent of Americans are eligible to give blood and less than 10 percent of that population is actually donating.” While Himmighoefer cannot donate herself, she encourages her fellow classmates to do so.  

CU Denver occasionally hosts blood drives on campus, boosting accessibility to students. If the school day is too hectic for students to donate on campus with the concern of not feeling well afterwards, Vitalant offers another option with its location 20 minutes from campus.  

Vitalant set a goal in the 9 News article to obtain “more than 3,500 blood products . . . each week to meet local patient needs.” Although the pool of people who actively donate is low across the United States, checking eligibility in preparation for blood drives and participating in those drives can help gradually reach that goal. 

“If you are able to give blood, it is an admirable way to help your fellow man and can be considered paying it forward, “Himmighoefer said. “One day it may be you needing this blood!” 

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