ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The nation is seeing its first-ever ‘blood crisis’ with a low supply of blood, according to the Red Cross. New Mexico is no exception. Vitalant, the regional blood agency for New Mexico, said it’s seeing its lowest blood supply in two years.

Story continues below

“As of right now, hospitals are at about one day’s worth of blood on the shelves,” said Evelyn Rosado, Communications Manager for Vitalant. “Generally, we like to have about three to four days.”

Vitalant said blood donations have dropped over the last month likely due to the surge in COVID-19 cases and the omicron variant, and the holidays. UNM said it is seeing the shortage.

“Like many hospitals around the state and country, University of New Mexico Hospital is also facing a blood supply shortage. As the state’s only Level I Trauma Center, blood is critical in treating many of our patients and in saving lives. UNM Health encourages New Mexicans to help our team and community by donating blood,” said a UNMH spokesperson via email.

Presbyterian said a shortage could come for them soon. “As of this moment, you know, we’re ok. But, I’m very concerned about these next couple weeks mainly because of the projected drop in donations from omicron,” said Dr. Chakri Gavva, Medical Director for Presbyterian’s Blood Bank.

A shortage of blood leads to tough decisions for doctors, who use blood in helping cancer patients and for emergencies and surgeries. “It’s a huge impact on the hospital and a huge impact on patients, you know, they can’t get some of the life-saving medications that they need,” said Gavva.

“It’s always somebody, it’s somebody’s family member who is needing that blood, right? If it’s not there for them, then it’s definitely going to cause an impact for that family,” said Rosado. If donations don’t go up, Presbyterian said it has to figure out how to do the most with less supply.

“We haven’t had to postpone any surgeries specifically due to lack of blood but that could be an option in the next couple weeks, right? Another option would be just to limit how much blood a patient can get,” said Gavva.

Vitalant and hospitals are urging people to roll up their sleeves and donate. “Blood donation is a great service to the community. The hospital systems, patients, you know, we all rely on the generous support of the donors,” said Gavva.

Vitalant is now offering a cash incentive to get more people to donate. Through the month of January, donors will be entered to be one of four winners that will receive a $5,000 prepaid giftcard.