Blood Bank Critically Low this Holiday Season

The Sign for the Northern California Community Blood Bank in Eureka, CA. Located near St. Joseph's Hospital.
Northern California Community Blood Bank's entrance sign

Welcome to the Northern California Community Blood Bank. The central location where blood donations go in the Humboldt and Del Norte area. The bank receives gallons of blood every year but numbers are quickly dropping this holiday season.

“Usually around the holidays it does get a little bit harder to keep our platelets supply up. Especially because everyone is traveling or doesn’t have the time.” Luis Castellan, the organization’s safety officer and donor care specialist, explains. “It does take a little bit of a time commitment for us, it can be up to a two-hour process to donate platelets, but again it is a very important part of collections that we do here because they do have such a short shelf life.”

Platelets play a huge role in helping doctors perform emergency surgeries and in the treatment of many cancer patients and they are vitally important to the healing process of any body.

“It’s something our community really needs, and outside communities need as well.” Castellan said.

Regular blood donations have also severely low. donor recruiter dee explains.

“It’s been going on for about 3 weeks now” Dee Vallee, donor recruiter, said. “All the O+ and O- goes right back out to the hospitals as soon as we get them on the shelf. We have not been able to keep up with the supply.”

Lack of blood supply locally means that many hospitals have to outsource, which can take days to even weeks to arrive. O-, the universal blood type, is always used first in transfusions before tests can confirm the patient’s proper blood type; with O+ being the second most used after.

“O+ is 37% of the population but right now there’s a lot of people who have the cold, flu, and covid and they can’t donate. So, a lot of our regular donors are gone” Vallee said.

Donators at the local blood bank are provided heating blankets and laptops to make the process as comfortable as possible and food is always provided free afterwards.

“You’re saving three lives by donating one unit.” Valle said. “It could be your dad’s, a newborn baby, it could be somebody’s grandma that needs it. What better gift than to give the gift of life for Christmas then is to donate blood.”

So, when thinking of places to donate this holiday season don’t forget your local blood bank on Harris. 

This has been Matthew Taylor with Redwood News.