As a new snowstorm arrives, Iowa’s blood stockpile is running critically low

MASON CITY — Many Iowa businesses are still struggling to recover from last week’s double-whammy of monster snowstorms, including LifeServe Blood Center.

Center spokeswoman Shay Willis says the heavy snowfalls caused the center several setbacks, which impacted perhaps thousands of patients in the 161 hospitals in Iowa, Nebraska, and South Dakota which LifeServe supplies with blood products.

“We have unfortunately had to cancel some of our mobile blood drives,” Willis says. “We’ve also had to either adjust or close some of our donor centers, so we have seen nearly a 1,000-unit loss, and if you really calculate that to the number of lives impacted, it’s nearly 3,000 lives.” That’s because each unit of blood donated can save up to three lives.

Willis says all of the non-profit’s facilities in Iowa are open again now, but blood supplies are running critically low. She says all blood types are needed.

“That actually changes daily, but if you were to visit our website and look at our homepage, you can actually see every single day what types of blood are most in need,” Willis says. “Today, our inventory in some cases looks decent, but in other cases, not so much.”

It’s been a challenging few weeks for LifeServe, as the mass shootings at Perry High School on January 4th prompted an urgent demand for extra blood at Des Moines area trauma hospitals.

“We had to use a lot of O-negative and O-positive blood and so those types of blood are typically the lowest and most critically in need,” Willis says. “I think that’s still the case today, but really I think the moral of the story is, there is always a need for a safe and stable community blood supply.”

LifeServe has 11 donor centers in Iowa: Ames, Ankeny, Des Moines (2), Fort Dodge, Marshalltown, Mason City, Pella, Sioux City, Urbandale and West Des Moines.

For more information about blood donation or to schedule an appointment to donate, call 800-287-4903 or visit lifeservebloodcenter.org.