Following the mass shooting in Orlando, the victims of the attack needed a massive amount of blood. People responded by lining up to donate blood, some waiting hours in the process.
People in Colorado who wanted to help in someway have also donated blood. However, it is important to know that blood donated in Colorado - where it’s always in need - will stay in Colorado.
Beth Balser, a laboratory scientist with UCHealth Memorial,handles blood every day. Beth can relate to the need for blood in Florida and the desire to do something locally to help but says, "Unfortunately, we will not have an impact in Orlando. We are unable to ship blood across state lines at this time. However, I do want to emphasize we always need blood products here in Colorado."
The daily amount of blood products use is significant, adds Balser, “In a serious trauma in general, it's not unusual to totally replace a person’s blood volume in a 24-hour period, which is about 8 units of blood. I have seen situations where we have done twice that much on an individual."
A mass casualty situation will almost always put a strain on the local blood supply, and if we were to face that kind of scenario in southern Colorado ,Balser does doubt the community would answer the call. "The community is a wonderful resource, and they do step up beautifully when we need blood products. In support of my fellow co-workers in Orlando, I can understand their difficulty at this point in time. Donating blood is a process that is highly regulated and highly mandated by the FDA and other agencies. We have to follow strict protocols in providing blood products for the community, so we can't process masses of people coming in to donate. I want to emphasize we need blood year round, and it's always nice if they want to come forward because of this situation (in Orlando), which is heart wrenching and critical, but we can't accommodate large amounts of people due to the regulations we have to adhere too."
Speaking of those regulations and the people who meet them, currently only 10 percent of eligible donors actually donate on a regular basis. Red blood cells can last about 6 weeks and Memorial uses most of the blood donated in 3-4 weeks on a regular basis.
If you're interested in donating blood you get more information or make make an appointment at Bonfils around southern Colorado. Their website is a great place to start at www.Bonfils.Org.