Arkansas Blood Institute asking public to donate after surge in hospital blood usage

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FILE – In this Thursday, March 26, 2020 file photo, vials of blood for testing and a donated bag of blood will be sent for testing and use at an American Red Cross blood drive at the Carbondale YMCA in Carbondale, Pa. On Thursday, April 2, 2020, the U.S. government eased restrictions on blood donations from gay men and other key groups because of a drop in the nation’s blood supply triggered by the coronavirus outbreak. (Jake Danna Stevens/The Times-Tribune via AP)

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – The Arkansas Blood Institute is asking residents to roll up their sleeves and help fill the need at local hospitals by donating blood.

ABI staff say they saw their highest blood distribution to state hospitals in March, surging to 10 percent over previous levels as the state started recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic.

With more patients returning for non-COVID-related care, hospitals are seeing a dramatic increase in demand for blood products.

“We’re thankful that COVID has receded enough for Arkansans to create a new normal and get caught up on deferred medical care,” Dr. John Armitage, president and CEO of Arkansas Blood Institute, explained. “But, the impact of this return to normalcy has stressed our blood supply in yet another way. The COVID pandemic continues to surprise and challenge us.”

Normally blood supplies in the area operate with a three-day supply, but the spike in demand has that dropped to a one-day supply.

Staff said COVID-19 concerns have also added to the drop in supply, with people questioning how vaccination status could affect them donating. The ABI notes that people don’t have to be vaccinated to give blood, adding that people can donate immediately after getting a dose if they are otherwise feeling well.

Those looking to donate can make an appointment at or head to any mobile blood drive or donation center.

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