Bay Area Has Critical Need for Blood; Donations Can be Done Safely

Nonprofit blood collector Vitalant says the pandemic has decimated supplies

Blood donations
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There is a critical shortage in Bay Area blood supplies because of the coronavirus pandemic, according to Vitalant, the region's largest blood collector.

The nonprofit has declared an urgent need for blood donors as the crisis has decimated supplies to the tune of 277 blood drives canceled since early March, resulting in 7,000 lost blood donations.

That loss combined with the resumption of surgeries and other medical procedures at area hospitals has caused a 25% increase in the need for blood during the past several weeks, Vitalant said.

All blood types are needed now, with an especially high need for type O, A-negative and B-negative red blood cells, Vitalant said. Also, platelets are always needed for patients undergoing cancer treatments, surgeries and emergencies. The supply of platelets has just a five-day shelf life and must be continually replenished.

“We strive to maintain a 4-day supply of blood just to provide what patients need, and currently we’re at less than half that for certain blood types,” Dr. Ralph Vassallo, chief medical officer at Vitalant, said in a statement. “It’s absolutely vital -- a matter of life or death for some -- to have enough blood collected and readily available on hospital shelves when patients need it.”

Vitalant said its donation centers continue to deploy strict precautionary measures to ensure the safety of donors, patients and staff, including:

  • Taking donors’ temperatures upon check-in (staff self-monitor their temperatures)
  • Requiring face masks or cloth-based face coverings (donors and staff)
  • Disinfecting donor-touched and other high-touch areas often and after every donation
  • Ensuring social distancing to keep donors and staff safe

Donors can set appointments to donate online at or by calling 877-258-4825.

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