Arkansas Blood Institute Experiencing Emergency Blood Shortage

FORT SMITH, Ark. (KFSM) — The Arkansas Blood Institute (ABI) is experiencing an emergency blood shortage and is calling on donors of all types for help.

According to ABI every two seconds, someone is in need of blood and just one donation can save up to three lives.

Widespread illness, including a flu outbreak, low turnout at blood drives and several days of winter weather has led to a decrease in donations.

"It seems like the flu has taken a toll on the blood supply. It has caused schools to shut down, it has caused businesses to work with fewer folks, and when they work with fewer folks then they are not able to be able to donate, they don’t have time to donate blood at the blood drive," said Danny Cervantes, Donor Recruitment Manager for the Arkansas Blood Institute.

ABI depends on an average of 1,200 donors per day to meet the needs of patients all across the state.

Typically, it maintains a three to five day supply for local hospitals. However, right now levels are at a less than one day supply

"Currently we’re experiencing the lowest blood supply we’ve seen in about three years or more in this area. We are at what we call a critical level which me we are on a plea for all blood types," said Cervantes.

Mercy Hospital in Fort Smith says patients haven’t been impacted by the shortage yet.

"We have over 120 blood products on site right here today and servicing the needs of our emergency department and in-house patients," said Kim Plake, Lab Director for Mercy Hospital in Fort Smith.

Mercy usually gets about 315 to 350 units per month. They say if the situation becomes desperate they are prepared to handle it by sourcing blood from other states.

All healthy adults are encouraged to donate and it only takes a couple of minutes to save a life.

If you are 16 you must weigh at least 125 pounds and provide a signed parental consent form.

Baptist Health is not experiencing any issues.

The hospital is hosting a blood drive on Wednesday, March 20 from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Shuffield Education Center.

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