Flu epidemic impacting blood supply; donations sought at several locations

The flu epidemic affecting Oklahoma is negatively impacting the blood supply.

Because so many regular donors are ill, or taking care of sick family members, they have been unable to give blood.

Additionally, the widespread flu is forcing school closures. High schools account for about 20 percent of Oklahoma Blood Institute’s blood donations, and parents are unable to keep their blood donation appointments. All of this puts even more strain on the blood supply.

OBI is urging all healthy adults, ages 16 and up, to give blood. Blood donors who have been diagnosed with flu should wait seven days since their last symptoms to give blood.

Donors may give blood the same day they receive a flu vaccine. Beginning Feb. 1, all OBI blood donors will receive their choice of a new, trendy T-shirt in one of three colors and positive words: olive, “Strong”; maroon, “Bold”; or teal, “Fearless.”

Upcoming local donation opportunities include: Feb. 6, Tahlequah High School Performing Arts Center, 8:30 a.m.-3 p.m.; Feb. 15, Talking Leaves Job Corps Gymnasium, 9 a.m.-3 p.m.; Feb. 22, Cherokee Nation, Tsi La Gi Ballroom inside the Restaurant/Gift shop building, 9 a.m.-4 p.m.; Feb. 26, Hulbert High School Auditorium, 10:30 a.m.-4 p.m.; Feb. 27, Northeastern Health Systems West Conference Room in Human Resources building, 11:30 a.m.-5 p.m.; and Feb. 28, Northeastern Health Systems West Conference Room in Human Resources building, noon-6 p.m.

“The flu has hit our state particularly hard, but the need for blood remains constant, and there is no substitute,” said John Armitage, president and chief executive officer of OBI. “That’s why we are calling on all donors who are able to give blood, or those who have never given before, to stop by one of our donor centers or mobile blood drives. If you have recovered from the flu, or been unaffected by it, we urge you to use your good health to save lives today.”

Only 10 percent of people in the U.S. who are eligible to give blood actually do.

Blood donation takes only about an hour, and each donation can save the lives of up to three patients.

OBI is the state’s local nonprofit blood bank serving more than 160 hospitals, medical facilities, and air ambulances statewide.

This includes all children’s, veterans and Indian hospitals.

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