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Emergency Blood Shortage: Shark Attack Survivor Encourages Others to Give

Vitalant blood supply down more than 25% since May

Nonprofit blood services provider Vitalant has an emergency blood shortage and urges all eligible donors to schedule a blood donation this July to prevent treatment delays for patients who need lifesaving transfusions. 

Exacerbated by the Fourth of July holiday week, the ongoing seasonal drop in blood donations since May has sharply reduced the available blood supply for patients by more than 25%, resulting in a less than three-day supply of most blood types. Maintaining an adequate blood supply is critical to helping patients after accidents and other emergencies and to treat cancer and other chronic diseases.

“If not enough blood is available at any given moment, delays in patient care can have life-threatening consequences,” Vitalant Chief Medical and Scientific Officer Dr. Ralph Vassallo said. “By making an appointment today and donating tomorrow, next week, even a couple weeks from now, you become a lifeline for patients.”

Fewer donors are available due to summer vacations – and fewer organizations host blood drives – yet the need for blood can also go up during what many hospitals refer to as “trauma season,” when outdoor activities tend to rise along with accidents and injuries.

Steve Bruemmer is grateful he is able to donate blood after more than 30 units of donated blood helped him recover from a shark attack last summer while swimming off the California coast. His experience has renewed his motivation to help others, knowing so many other people depend on lifesaving blood donations. 

“We owe it to each other and rely on each other to do our part," Bruemmer said. "Now I want to be the good Samaritan that donates blood.” 

All blood types are needed, but especially type O, the most transfused blood type. O-negative can be used to help any patient in an emergency and O-positive can support anyone with a positive blood type. Platelet donations play a vital role for cancer patients and those undergoing open-heart surgeries and transplants. Platelets are constantly needed and must be used within a week of donation to ensure the best possible patient outcomes.

Thousands of donation appointments are available nationwide in the next two weeks. Learn more and make an appointment to give at, download and use the Vitalant app or call 877-25-VITAL (877-258-4825).