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Blood shortage nationally raises concerns for the community

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The maintenance of a safe and sufficient blood supply is vital to supporting public health. Blood is a corner stone of modern medicine and plays a pivotal role in the delivery of health care today. It is estimated that anywhere from 15 to 27% of all treatments in a hospital environment involve blood or blood products in some manner.

Blood is not only important for conducting essential surgeries and treating those with serious illness or trauma; blood and blood products in a hospital have an intrinsic value beyond its direct use. Many “bloodless” surgeries or treatments would not occur in a hospital day to day but for the availability of blood in the event of unanticipated complications necessitating the use of blood.

The importance of blood in modern health care cannot be overstated. There is simply no substitute for blood and blood products provided by the estimated 6.8 million volunteer donors across the country. 1 in 3 Americans will require blood or blood products in their lifetime.

And yet, there is a serious shortage of blood and blood products in the Lower 48. In some places, this shortage is dire and becomes more critical each day. In some Lower 48 communities, elective surgeries are being cancelled. Hospital resupply of given units of blood is often severely delayed. The potential cost in lives and quality of life for patients whose surgeries have been cancelled is enormous.

We in Alaska are fortunate not to be in a situation comparable to the Lower 48. Our blood supply is stable and available for use, thanks to the many thousands of blood donations collected year after year by Blood Bank of Alaska.

The Blood Bank of Alaska is a nonprofit organization guided by a volunteer board of directors. Our board members live across the state, from Juneau, Soldotna, Chickaloon, Anchorage and Fairbanks, providing our time and skill as a community service to all Alaskans.

Though we collect and prepare the blood, it is our many generous and committed donors who are responsible for our ability to have blood available across Alaska. It is each of these caring Alaskans donating blood throughout the year that makes possible BBA’s ability to collect, test, refine and distribute the necessary and critical blood supply to the state of Alaska. It is these Alaskans — true selfless heroes in every sense of the word — that ensure their fellow Alaskans are able to receive the gift of life: blood.

Alaska is a very unique community of people. Alaskans helping Alaskans is not just a platitude, it is real. Alaskans really do help their fellow Alaskans. Self-sufficiency is not just a good idea to Alaskans, it is a necessity for Alaskans. We pride ourselves on our “can do” approach to life, and we humble ourselves to help each other in times of need. And because of this, we have a great way of life.

We at Blood Bank of Alaska thank each and every one of our blood and platelet donors for their generous gift of life. It is you as the wonderful donor you are who keep Alaska’s blood supply available for those in the community in need. Every day we greet our generous donors at our donation centers in Anchorage, Juneau, Fairbanks and Wasilla.

It is you who ensures the compromised new-born is able to celebrate the many birthdays that lay ahead. It is you who plays a pivotal role in the recovery of the cancer patient. It is you who assures that blood is available for the trauma patient, injured in the backcountry, making possible her ability to see her child graduate from high school. Without your time, without your generosity, without your life-giving donation, there is no blood supply. A blood supply that each of us as Alaskans is dependent upon when we need it. Our heartfelt thanks to each of you.

We invite those of you who are not currently blood donors to join your fellow Alaskans. To stand shoulder to shoulder with us to assure the health and well-being of Alaska. Become an Alaskan hero, donate blood. To make an appointment today, call 907-222-5630. 

Marc Bond, JD, serves as the chairman of Blood Bank of Alaska’s board of directors.

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